WISH-TV Channel 8, which will lose its 58-year affiliation with CBS-TV at the end of the year, is planning to fill some of the programming void with local news coverage, the Indianapolis station announced Wednesday.
WISH said it plans to add four extra hours of newscasts every weekday beginning Jan. 1, going from five to nine hours. That includes the addition of news in the 10 p.m.-to-11 p.m. time slot usually reserved for primetime network programming.
“Today’s announcement and these news expansions mark a new era for WISH-TV and the viewers we serve,” WISH General Manager Les Vann said in a written statement. “However, this is only the beginning of that era. We’re looking forward to announcing, in the days to come, our new entertainment program lineup that complements these news expansions.”
WISH said its Daybreak news program will expand by two hours, running daily from 4:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.
News 8 at Noon will run an extra half-hour, from noon to 1 p.m.
WISH’s afternoon broadcast will grow by 30 minutes and run from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
There are no plans at this time, Vann said, to expand weekend newscasts.
Vann was appointed general manager of WISH and sister station WNDY Channel 23 in late August by Austin, Texas-based LIN Media LLC.
He took the position just two weeks after WISH found out that it would lose its affiliation with CBS-TV at the end of the year to WTTV-TV Channel 4, which is owned by Chicago-based Tribune Broadcasting.
Vann told IBJ on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect ad rates to slip for WISH’s local news after the station loses the network affiliation. He expects to start meeting with advertisers and ad buyers beginning this week.
“We’ve created rating estimates and we think we’ll be market competitive,” Vann said. “We don’t expect our local news ratings to drop and we’re going to work to grow them.”
Vann said WISH will roll out a high-profile marketing initiative likely after the November sweeps period to trumpet the changes to viewers and advertisers.
“It will be very visible,” he said.
Vann declined to discuss WISH’s plans regarding programming outside the local newscasts.
“I am focused solely on the localism of it,” Vann said. “That’s been the trademark of this station for more than 60 years, and the change in affiliation gives us an opportunity to build on that. Adding 20 hours a week of local news gives us a greater forum for being involved in the community.”
Staffing plans are still being formulated, Vann said, but he didn’t discount the possibility of adding staffers to bulk up the local news operation. The station lost its sales director and morning traffic reporter shortly after Vann's hiring.
“We’re going to invest in this,” Vann said. “We’re going to do it right."