Scripps launches regional news network for Florida

(Image courtesy the E. W. Scripps Company, Graphic by The Desk)

The E. W. Scripps Company this week launched a new regional news network that will cover the state of Florida.

The service, called Florida 24 Network, will pool the resources of five Scripps-owned local television stations in the state, delivering news and features to Florida residents through digital broadcast and streaming television.

Scripps operates stations in Fort Myers, Miami, Tampa, Tallahassee and West Palm Beach.

“Scripps is committed to serving both long-time Florida residents and newcomers with the authentic and hyper-local journalism we know is essential to people’s lives,” Brian Lawlor, the president of local media initiatives at Scripps, said in a statement.

“The launch of the Florida 24 Network is the evolution of our long-time commitment to our Florida audiences and advertisers,” Lawlor continued. “We know our local business partners are eager to reach TV consumers via [streaming and broadcast].”

Scripps said the channel will include top stories from throughout the state as well as political, health, wildlife and lifestyle reporting of interest to Floridians. The broadcaster’s state reporter, Forrest Saunders, will report on political matters from Tallahassee; Katie LaGrone, an investigative reporter whose stories appear on Scripps’ stations throughout Florida, will also produce news packages for Florida 24 Network.

“The pandemic has taught us a lot about the ways in which our newsrooms are able to collaborate to produce high-quality news and information in a remote environment,” Lawlor said. “The Florida 24 Network captures those learnings with the same commitment to essential journalism for which Florida residents have known Scripps for many years.”

Regional news networks launched by local television station owners is not a new concept, but they have been largely relegated to cable television systems covering a small geographic area.

A consumer shift away from traditional pay TV services like cable has resulted in the closure of several regional news operations, including Northwest Cable News, a Seattle-based service that collated reports from Gannett-owned stations there, and Texas Cable News (TXCN), which was launched by Belo in 1995 and closed in 2015.

Florida 24 Network aims for a different audience: One that has already moved away from cable in favor of free broadcast television and cheaper streaming options. On Tuesday, Scripps confirmed that the regional news network will be offered over-the-air in Florida and accessible through a streaming app that will be distributed on smart TV platforms like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Android TV (Google TV).

Streamers can also watch the Florida 24 Network via a free live stream on its website, Florida24Network.com.

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