WFLA to Produce Newscast for WTTA; Local Officials Clam Up
For a reporter, there's not many things more frustrating than when sources won't return your calls.
That's why I was surprised and a little disappointed when officials at WFLA-Ch. 8 and WTTA-Ch. 38 declined to return my phone calls about an interesting rumor I had heard: WFLA was going to produce a newscast starting next month for WTTA, the MyNetworkTV affiliate in town.
Dan Bradley, vice president of news for Media General's broadcast division -- who rose from the ranks of WFLA's photographers to become news director in Tampa before taking the top news job at the parent company -- confirmed to me that WFLA expected to close a deal with WTTA, but didn't know specifics.
"Why do we do this? Because it is a good way of extending our local news brand and image in the market place," wrote Bradley in an email, noting that Media General stations have similar agreements in five other markets. "Much the same reason you and other folks from the St Pete Times appear on Bay News 9." Back in 2000, WFLA created half-hour 7 and 10 p.m. newscasts for Pax TV-owned WXPX-Ch. 17, using anchors Keith Cate and Stacie Schaible, but those newscasts have long since ended.
With five TV outlets producing news, including 24-hour local newschannel Bay News 9, Tampa isn't a market starved for television news. But when WTTA established a 10 p.m. newscast in 2003, officials there said more than 30 percent of all TV advertising comes from sponsors who only want space in the newscast -- especially political advertising.
So, with one of the most-contested presidential elections around the corner in 2008, a new newscast for WTTA may make lots of financial sense for the station. Hopefully, there will be information to come on who is anchoring, when the show will debut and what the set looks like.
Perhaps when someone returns one of my calls, I can tell you.