NBCUniversal to Invest Millions to Enhance Local News at 10 NBC TV Stations



NEW YORK - NBCUniversal on Monday said it is investing millions of dollars to make enhancements at its 10 owned TV stations "to further strengthen the news gathering operations at the stations and ensure they have the resources necessary to effectively compete in their markets."

Valari Staab, president of the NBC Owned Television Stations, said that the station group is hiring more than 130 people, primarily in the news department, including reporters, producers and photographers. She added that it will also produce more local news, launch new consumer and investigative units in five markets, add newscasts in such markets as New York and Los Angeles, as well as spend money on new studios, sets and helicopter coverage.

While the company didn't disclose the size of the investment, sources put the amount in the tens of millions of dollars. “Our stations have a responsibility to deliver critical local news and information to viewers in their respective communities each and every day,” said Staab. “By making these strategic investments in our stations, we will ensure we meet our viewers’ high expectations.”

She added: “We want our stations to enterprise stories and truly produce differentiated, high quality local news content; and we want them to make it available to our audiences in as many ways as possible – on TV, online and on the go. With these investments, our stations will be even better equipped to serve their markets.”

When cable giant Comcast got regulatory approval earlier this year to acquire a majority stake in NBCUniversal, the company promised to add 1,000 hours in local news programming. On Monday, the company said it would add more than 1,200 additional hours of local news a year under the latest initiative. That means that it has added more than 2,200 hours of such programming since the Comcast-NBCUniversal transaction was approved in January, it added.

NBCUniversal's Telemundo this summer also had said that its TV station group would increase local news and public affairs programming by more than 25 percent by January. Much of the investment in the NBC stations will take place over the next several months, and it will include an hour-long 5 p.m. newscast on WNBC New York, a 30-minute noon newscast on KNBC Los Angeles, a 30-minute noon newscast on WMAQ Chicago, 30-minute newscasts at 4:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. on WCAU in Comcast home market Philadelphia and the establishment of investigative and/or consumer units in five markets, including Washington, D.C.

The company will also build new sets and/or studios at four stations, including WNBC Channel 4 in New York, add or increase the hours of helicopter coverage in several markets and restore the promotions departments at all 10 stations.

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