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Murdoch Station Drops News Dept.

May 13, 1986| From United Press-International

DALLAS — KDAF-TV, acquired by Rupert Murdoch's Fox Television in March, has dropped its local news department because of operating costs and laid off about 25 news and production personnel.

Ray Schonbak, general manager of Channel 33, told the news staff of the decision at a Saturday morning meeting, said news anchorman Quin Mathews.

Schonbak told the news staff the station's nightly 7 p.m. newscast was being dropped and employees laid off because of "numbers crunching" and production costs, Mathews said.

Mathews said the staff was notified of the meeting Friday night.

"We had absolutely no inkling of this until last night, when the meeting was called," he said. "Everybody was shocked, as you can imagine."

Schonbak could not be reached for comment Saturday night on the decision to cancel the newscast.

KDAF reportedly plans to temporarily replace the local newscast with reruns of the 1970s police show "SWAT."

Employees will receive severance pay, insurance benefits and will be assisted in finding other jobs, possibly with a Fox station.

Murdoch also owns television stations in Washington, D.C., (WTTG), New York (WNYW), Chicago (WFLD), Houston (KRIV) and Los Angeles (KTTV).

KDAF was known as KRLD-TV before the sale to Fox in March. Its previous owners, Metromedia, owned the station for about two years and at one time announced plans for a national newscast.

Channel 33's newscast was honored by the UPI Broadcasters Assn. of Texas in 1985 for best newscast and best spot news.

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