Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bye, Bye Akron/Canton News - Again?

A local TV newscast for the Akron/Canton area has now been saved twice...will there be a third time?

The Beacon Journal's R.D. Heldenfels reports that officials at WKYC/3 and Time Warner Cable are mulling the prospect of ending "Akron/Canton News" by the end of April, due to massive financial losses. The apparent cause - moving from a broadcast channel (WVPX/23) to the obscurity of TWC's channel 23 has made it difficult to sell advertising for the newscast.

To that end, TWC's Bill Jasso says the company will try to convince large, "institutional" advertisers to get on board in a meeting early next month. He's talking about advertisers like the University of Akron - which we know had been aboard as a "founding sponsor" in the newscast's early days on WVPX.

Both TWC and WKYC seem to regard the newscast as a "loss leader", and say they're basically hoping to cover costs if nothing else. Without "Akron/Canton News", WKYC's Akron bureau downtown would shrink from 10 employees to three - current anchor Eric Mansfield would remain as reporter/bureau chief, and have two videographers in the building.

The office of Akron mayor Don Plusquellic is also getting the city actually helped birth the original "PAX 23 News" by extracting financial concessions out of new WVPX owner Paxson Communications in exchange for approval of a tower site rezoning. And of course, long-time Plusquellic spokesman Mark Williamson was the news director and anchor for WAKC/23's "23 Newsday" back in the day.

While TWC is the area's dominant cable operator, the cable channel in question is sparsely programmed with occasional local shows...though it does now host Cleveland Indians games as the channel for SportsTime Ohio....

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