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When Did 10am Newscasts on Local TV Become a Trend?

The lines continue to blur. I read last week that three ABC-owned TV stations in major markets are launching 10 AM newscasts.

10 AM. Explain this to me, please.

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You know but slowly, as if I’m emerging from a 17-week coma after being struck on the head by a banjo dropped from a tall building.

Here’s what one of the stations, WPVI in Philadelphia, says in announcing the news on its website with this writer’s thoughts following each paragraph:

6abc is announcing the launch of Action News at 10 a.m. beginning Sept. 11!”

First of all, why?

Secondly, in deference to those born on that day, I don’t think much good can come of anything launched or initiated on Sept. 11.

“Alicia Vitarelli, Alyana Gomez, and Nydia Han will anchor the newscast, with meteorologist Karen Rogers expanding her duties and joining the team with the AccuWeather forecast.”

I don’t live in Philadelphia and while I’m confident the team is a talented group, that’s a mighty big desk for a mid-morning program that is not The View, The Talk, or The Five.

“ABC stations WABC-TV in New York and WTVD-TV in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina are also launching 10 a.m. newscasts.”

New York and Raleigh will be using slightly smaller anchor teams but the result is the same, as is the question.

Obviously, this is a corporate decision directed at the O&O’s but nevertheless;

 “I suppose that if Johnny Finnegan jumped off the Empire State Building, you would have to jump off the Empire State Building.” George Carlin

“The broadcast will fill the time slot previously held by the Tamron Hall Show, which – after record-breaking season four ratings – is taking over the 2 p.m. time slot.”

Well, there’s a clue right in front of us. “We’re trying to build an audience for something else and the news people are already on the clock”. Or something like that.

“Tamron has had an exceptional year, and I know this move will grow her incredibly passionate Tam Fam even more,” said Chad Matthews, President of ABC Owned Television Stations. “And the addition of local news programming at 10 a.m. – led by these extraordinary teams – will allow us to dig even deeper into the topics and events that showcase our local communities and the issues most impacting them, as well as extend and expand upon breaking news and topics being discussed on ‘Good Morning America’ and ‘Live with Kelly and Mark.'”

Ok, so it appears they’re trying to sandwich in some news credibility which is buried deep during the late hours of GMA.

Are we watering down the liquor here or just liquoring up the water?

While these three are not the first and certainly not the only stations to have 10 AM newscasts, Tegna’s CBS station WWL in New Orleans and Sunbeam’s Fox WSVN in Miami are also doing it, it does raise the question again: Why?

More than a year ago I asked why for similar reasons.

While I bear similar curiosities this time, I’m also wondering who will be watching and if they’ll still be watching in October. You’re not just changing a format here, you’re changing the temperature of the mid-morning for people.

Unless you’re going only with soft or good news, the news of the day is a slap in the face for those people not prepared for it. It’s jarring and rough in some parts because that’s what gets people’s attention.

Again, who wants news at 10 a.m. on these stations as opposed to the other on-demand options already available? Oh, and that song and dance about digging deeper or going more in-depth with the stories and local issues that viewers want or expanding coverage on breaking news? Let’s set our watches to see how long that lasts before resources are reallocated and running leftover network content or morning AsLive stories is considered more cost-effective.

Not to say the current product is bad but why not focus and fine-tune what you’re already doing as opposed to diluting the field even more by stretching it to cover even more air time?

Who is and who will be a regular viewer of a 10 AM newscast? What are people doing at that time that would entice them to tune in? Where are they? Are they home? At work? In a doctor’s office? Are they looking at all the TVs at Walmart?

I think somebody is taking Field of Dreams a little too much to heart. You can build it but it doesn’t mean they’re going to come.

Bill Zito
Bill Zito
Bill Zito has devoted most of his work efforts to broadcast news since 1999. He made the career switch after serving a dozen years as a police officer on both coasts. Splitting the time between Radio and TV, he’s worked for ABC News and Fox News, News 12 New York , The Weather Channel and KIRO and KOMO in Seattle. He writes, edits and anchors for Audacy’s WTIC-AM in Hartford and lives in New England. You can find him on Twitter @BillZitoNEWS.

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