Nexstar to shut down regional cable news channel Chicagoland Television

Chicagoland Television, a regional cable news channel that has aired news and public affairs programming to the Chicago metropolitan area for more than two decades, will cease production by the end of next year.

The decision to pull the plug on Chicagoland Television (CLTV) ends a 26-year run for the regional cable news channel that was acquired earlier this year by Nexstar Media Group through the broadcaster’s merger with Tribune Media.

In a memo to employees on Monday, Chicagoland Television’s President & General Manager Paul Rennie said the decision to pull the plug on CLTV came amid a wave of new competitors, including traditional news sources like Fox News and MSNBC as well as digital platforms that effectively cover the metropolitan area.

“The media landscape has changed dramatically since [CLTV launched]” Rennie said. “Back then, there were only four networks, cable news was still in its infancy, and the Internet was just beginning.”

Rennie said CLTV’s end would give sister-broadcaster WGN-TV an opportunity to expand its local news footprint under the tutelage of new parent company Nexstar.

All staff members at CLTV will lose their positions by the time the channel closes next year. Some staff members “will have the opportunity to apply for open jobs at WGN-TV” as their positions are eliminated at CLTV, Rennie said. His note did not say if CLTV employees would be given priority over new applicants for the WGN-TV roles.

The full note from Rennie appears below:

All,

I want to let you know that today we made the difficult business decision to stop production of CLTV effective at the end of the year. I met with the CLTV staff this morning to let them know.

CLTV has had a great run since it first signed on 26 years ago, in January 1993, but the media landscape has changed dramatically since that time. Back then, there were only four networks, cable news was still in its infancy, and the Internet was just beginning.

MSNBC, FOX News, and CNBC didn’t exist and the idea of getting news through a mobile device was unimaginable. There were no local morning news shows, and WGN-TV produced just two newscasts, the Midday News and the WGN News at 9. WGN-TV now produces more than 70 hours of local news per week—more than any other TV station in Chicago.

Unfortunately, with news now available 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week across a variety of multi-media platforms, it has become increasingly difficult for CLTV to hold on to its audience and remain competitive, despite the high-quality of the local journalism it produces.

Ending production of CLTV will give us a chance to continue expanding local programming and local news here at WGN-TV.

In the first quarter of 2020, we plan to expand weekend news further and add some new local programming focused on sports and politics. I’ll have more info on this expansion early next year.

While there will be a small reduction of staff as a result of today’s decision, most CLTV employees will have the opportunity to apply for open jobs at WGN-TV.

For now, please join me in thanking everyone at CLTV for their constant effort and dedication to producing quality local journalism through the years. I am proud to have been a small part of CLTV’s history.

Paul

CLTV’s demise resolves a few lingering questions about non-television broadcast assets owned by Nexstar through its merger with Tribune. Still in question are WGN America, a cable and satellite-only channel that grew from the television outlet’s former status as a trans-national superstation, and WGN Radio.

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