Management of Viacom's recently merged KCBS-TV and KCAL-TV announced plans Thursday for an unprecedented sharing between the two local stations, in which KCAL would serve as a satellite for CBS shows airing on KCBS.
Under the new arrangement, CBS shows airing in prime time on KCBS that might get postponed or preempted by special programming can now air on KCAL, said Don Corsini, general manager of the two stations.
The plan will first be used on Aug. 9, when KCBS will air a preseason Oakland Raiders game starting at 6 p.m. Ordinarily, the game would preempt KCBS' regularly scheduled 8 p.m. broadcast of CBS' "48 Hours." But KCAL will broadcast the newsmagazine that night in its regular time slot.
Another switch will take place Aug. 24 with the KCBS broadcast of another Raiders game starting at 6 p.m. "Big Brother 3," which would normally air on KCBS at 8 p.m., will air on KCAL at that time.
And the Sept. 18 installment of "Big Brother 3" leading up to the season finale will air on KCAL at 8 p.m.; KCBS that night will show a special "Countdown to the Latin Grammys" at 8, leading to the awards telecast at 9 p.m.
Viewers will be informed of the changes through on-air advisories, commercials and Web sites. Still to be determined is how advertisers buying time on KCBS will react to being switched from the network station to KCAL.
"Prime time is offering us some great opportunities for this duopoly," Corsini said. "There are chances not only cross-promotionally but also that will provide pure synergy."
Other sharing between the two stations is also planned. In September, KCAL will start airing the syndicated "Judge Judy" at 6 p.m. KCBS will continue airing two episodes of the court show, starting at 3:30 p.m. in September instead of the current 4 p.m. time slot.
Laura Diaz, the KABC-TV "Eyewitness News" veteran just hired by KCBS, will expand the synergy between the stations as what Corsini called the "cornerstone" of the duopoly, which won approval from federal regulators in May. A duopoly is when one company owns or runs two stations in the same market.
The KCBS-KCAL duopoly is one of four locally. News Corp. owns KTTV-TV and KCOP-TV. NBC recently purchased Spanish-language network Telemundo, which means the network now owns KNBC, KWHY-TV and KVEA-TV (though KWHY will have to be sold because of restrictions limiting ownership to two stations per city.) Spanish-language rival Univision also controls two stations: flagship KMEX-TV and KFTR-TV.
Diaz is not due to start at KCBS until Sept. 3. But before that she will travel to New York to work with KCAL news anchor Pat Harvey, reporter Joe Connable and KCBS reporter Drew Griffin on a news special dealing with the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The special will air on KCBS and KCAL, with an airdate to be determined.
When Diaz takes the KCBS anchor chair on Sept. 3, she will be reunited with her long-standing "Eyewitness News" partner, Harold Greene. Greene went to KCBS after 18 years at KABC. The pair will anchor the 5 and 11 p.m. newscasts.
Corsini said Diaz was a key to attracting a significant Latino audience.
"Channel 2 has not done a very good job of connecting with the Hispanic community," he said. "Laura will play a large part in us achieving that goal."
KCBS will also be adding an additional half-hour of news at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 3, replacing "Judge Judy." Gretchen Carr, who currently anchors at 6 and 11 p.m., will be one of the new anchors for that newscast.
Corsini is positioning the 4:30 p.m. newscast as an answer to KNBC-TV's replacing its 4 p.m. newscast with the syndicated "Dr. Phil McGraw" show.
"Channel 4 announced that they're getting out of a franchise they've had for the last 15 years to put on 'Dr. Phil,' " Corsini said. "This is a huge opportunity for us, and we're taking full advantage."