SYRACUSE -- Starting Monday, viewers will be able to catch live, local television newscasts as early as 4am. CNY Central announced today that NBC 3 (WSTM) will expand its Today in Central New York by a full hour, starting at 4:00am. But there's a flip-side to the expansion: the station will no longer offer the noon newscast it had been simulcasting on NBC 3 and CBS 5 (WTVH).
The changes were announced tonight on the stations' early evening newscasts and online at CNYCentral.com. President and CEO Chris Geiger said "viewers are turning the television on earlier." The expansion of Today in Central New York will give WSTM the distinction of being the first broadcast outlet in Syracuse to get on the air with breaking news and severe weather. For now, that honor goes to ABC affiliate NewsChannel 9 (WSYR-TV), which begins The Morning News at 4:30am. Just a few years ago, both stations started their early morning newscasts at 5:00am.
Geiger explains the cancellation of the noon newscast is attributed to those early morning viewers "shifting to online and mobile news sites" during the middle part of the day. Another possible reason -- though not mentioned in the stations' announcement -- is the fact that having talent and crew start their day prior to 4:00am would mean an eight-hour workday ends before noon. At that point, producing a noon newscast would require the station to pay everyone overtime or add an additional shift of workers, a move which might not be cost-effective for a single, 30-minute newscast.
In place of the noon newscast, NBC3 will air Access Hollywood, while another syndicated infotainment program, Extra, will fill the timeslot on CBS5. According to the program schedule on CNYCentral.com, the shows will also continue to air in their current timeslots, at 7:00pm and 7:30pm respectively, on NBC3. Since both shows are produced on the west coast, we presume the noon timeslot will be a repeat of the previous day's program; the shows aren't typically completed in time for airing at noon eastern.
As of 9:00pm Wednesday, about a dozen viewers have posted comments below the CNYCentral.com article. So far, most of those comments seem to be split evenly between questioning if there's really a need for news to begin at 4:00am, and questioning the decision to cancel the noon newscast. One viewer who identified herself as an early riser did praise the additional morning hour, and said she wouldn't miss the noon show since she's at work at that hour. For those who will miss the lunchtime newscast on WSTM and WTVH, it appears NewsChannel 9 will be the only broadcast option for noon news as of next week.