WFLA-Ch. 8 debuts 4:30 a.m. newscast today, seemingly with no paid ads
Tampa NBC affiliate WFLA-Ch. 8 debuted its new 4:30 a.m. newscast today seamlessly, with a few jokes from anchor Rod Carter about the early start time and a range of headlines from the progress of Hurricane Igor to the upcoming Sarasota trial of reggae star Buju Banton.
But one thing stood out during the broadcast: It seemed to have no ads that weren't promotions for the station, its sister companies or public service announcements for charities such as the USO or DiabetesActNow.org.
Over three commercial breaks in today's broadcast, WFLA featured promotional ads for its weather team, the midday show Daytime, sister news outlets The Tampa Tribune and TBO.com and other in-house platforms. There were also advertisements which looked like public service announcements for USO.org and DiabetesActNow.org.
When the station announced the early newscast back in mid-August, news director Don North admitted that the audience might not be sizable for 4:30 a.m. broadcasts now, but trends indicated viewers were starting their days earlier and might make the timeslot an important one in the future. Industry experts note that local stations can keep more advertising revenue in local newscasts -- but only if they are filled with paid commercials.
Today's broadcast also starts the countdown to the departure of morning traffic reporter Alicia Roberts, who announced last month she would be leaving WFLA on Sept. 30.
The station plans to hire a secondary news anchor and a new traffic reporter for the morning show, which has seen some slippage in ratings since the departures of longtime morning anchors Bill Ratliff and Gayle Guyardo.