WPSD, KBSI to take on KFVS12's 9 p.m. newscast

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

WPSD Channel 6 will produce a 9 p.m. local newscast for Cape Girardeau-based KBSI starting this fall, a television team-up that will pit the new news product against one that KFVS12 has been offering its sister station, UPN-the Beat, for three years.

WPSD, an NBC affiliate, will gather the news -- skewed toward Southeast Missouri, executives say -- and will broadcast the half-hour show on KBSI, also known as FOX-23, around Oct. 1.

"We wanted to add another dimension to the station, to give viewers an option," said Tom Tipton, general manager for KBSI. "For us, this seemed like the most cost-effective way to get into the news business."

Neither WPSD or KBSI executives would discuss the terms of the deal.

The news program will mark the first time 23-year-old KBSI has aired a show devoted entirely to local news. Tipton said they chose 9 p.m. because FOX doesn't offer a prime time show at that time and because WPSD did not want to compete against itself at 10 p.m.

But WPSD wasn't KBSI's first choice, according to Mike Smythe, general manager of both KFVS12 and UPN, the Beat, which has call letters of WQWQ. Tipton approached KFVS12 about providing a news program for KBSI several months ago, Smythe said, a point that Tipton concedes.

Smythe said that Raycom America Inc., which owns KFVS12 and WQWQ, wasn't interested because the deal would require them to stop producing a 9 p.m. show for the UPN affiliate.

"I think he's very discouraged that we didn't do the newscast for him," Smythe said. "But we've invested a lot of money and time into our 9 o'clock newscast, and we didn't want to drop it."

More accurately, Smythe said, KFVS12 under the deal would have been providing its 9 p.m. show for KBSI instead of its sister station, which is slated later this year to become an affiliate for the newly formed CW network.

"We just didn't want to do that," Smythe said.

Currently, the 9 p.m. UPN newcast gets about a 1 rating, according to Smythe, which equates to about 9,000 viewers of a pool of about 891,000 total viewers from the market's 50-county area in Southeast Missouri, Southern Illinois and Western Kentucky.

Still, KBSI doesn't feel like it's getting an inferior product with WPSD, Tipton said.

"I'm thrilled with what we've come up with," he said. "It's not like we took the stepchild here because we didn't get the No. 1 news station. We parted ways when we couldn't reach a deal with KFVS and moved forward."

David Jernigan, WPSD's vice president of sales and marketing in Paducah, Ky., said the KBSI show will focus more on Southeast Missouri news than the WPSD-TV 10 p.m. news broadcast.

"The news will be from the entire region," Jernigan said. "I don't think there's any question about that. There will be news about Southern Illinois and Kentucky, but our news will definitely skew more toward Southeast Missouri. That's what the viewers there want."

KFVS12 has long suffered criticism from Southeast Missouri viewers that it focuses more on Southern Illinois than Southeast Missouri. Neither Tipton nor Jernigan would comment about that, and Smythe said it wasn't true.

"It's true we have a bureau in Paducah and Carbondale, but we have a full station here," Smythe said. "FOX is no fool station. I like them. But the only problem I see with this is it takes manpower. You tell me how a Western Kentucky station an hour and a half away with no bureau here is going to cover Southeast Missouri?"

Jernigan replied: "Mike will just have to sit back and see how we do it."

smoyers@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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