KIRO-TV (UPN) and KCPQ-TV (Fox) today reached an agreement that will place a half-hour KIRO newscast on KCPQ's airwaves, nightly at 10 beginning Monday, ending a weeks-long effort by KIRO to find a home on another channel for its prime-time news.
After a two-year absence, CBS returns to KIRO next week from KSTW-TV. CBS programming will displace KIRO's present 10 p.m. news, and UPN programming will move to KSTW.
Under the agreement, KIRO will produce the newscast, which will be transmitted to KCPQ for broadcast, retain editorial control and sell the advertising. The agreement lasts three years.
For KIRO, broadcasting news on another channel enables it to strengthen its brand name and continue to capitalize on a large news staff and established anchor talent. Steve Raible and Margaret Larson will anchor the news at 10 on KCPQ, as they do now on KIRO. On weekends, Mike James and Lisa Hughes will continue as anchors.
Continuing the broadcast on KCPQ also means KIRO doesn't need to concede the time period to KSTW, which will launch its own 10 p.m. news next Monday.
And by placing a newscast on KCPQ, opposite entertainment on its own channel, KIRO has a second revenue stream - it can compete for coveted local-news advertising dollars while reaping the benefits of major-network affiliation.
For KCPQ, carrying KIRO's news is an inexpensive way to get into the news business.
The Fox network has been urging the station to establish a news presence. Fox's overall strategy is to build a reputation on news and sports, now that its entertainment programming is taken seriously.
But having invested about $21 million in new studios at Lake Union in Seattle, it would have been challenging for KCPQ to spend millions more starting its own newsroom.
The agreement is not ideal for KCPQ, however. The station had planned to start its own news operation within a year or so, and the three-year pact with KIRO seems to preclude this.
The other station under consideration by KIRO was KTZZ-TV (WB). KIRO broadcast a 10 o'clock newscast on KTZZ in the early 1990s, but it was doomed by poor ratings. KCPQ has the advantage of higher-rated Fox shows and the greater visibility they afford adjacent programming.