In 2002, the FCC approved what was known as the first “duopoly” in the country when Nexstar Broadcasting entered into an agreement with Mission Broadcasting to operate two television stations, NBC affiliate WBRE & CBS affiliate WYOU.
Both television stations would combine their operations into the same building. They would have newscasts running at the same time, pool their news resources, and have the same master control operators running both television stations.
The new “model” was supposedly be able run more efficiently. In reality, this only allowed more ‘chaos’ to take place among those who work. Because one station was unionized and the other wasn’t, this lead to an all-out assault by management and their allies to decertify.
In 2003, the operation to decertify the union was successful and those workers expecting better times with Nexstar were guessed wrong.
Last week, the company announced that it would cancel its news operation effective the following day. The end of it’s newscasts resulted in the layoffs of 14 personnel.
Syndicated programming will air in place of the newscasts. Nexstar management said the station will save nearly one million dollars a year by closing down its news department.
The loss will only benefit the bean-counters at Nexstar and Mission. For the viewers of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre market, which is the 53rd largest in the country, the loss will result in less objectivity and diverse voices in news gathering.
It’s safe to say that this duopoly experiment failed miserably. I hope the FCC is taking notes!