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KCRA to end news partnership with KFBK; morning host Dan Mitchinson exits radio station

The logos of KCRA Channel 3 and KFBK 1530 AM / 93.1 FM.
The logos of KCRA Channel 3 and KFBK 1530 AM / 93.1 FM. (Images: KCRA-TV/Hearst, KFBK/iHeartMedia, Handouts)

KCRA-TV is ending its news partnership with Sacramento radio station KFBK and will no longer make its reports or on-air personalities available to the station, sources confirmed to The Desk on Wednesday.

The television outlet’s decision to end its editorial partnership with KFBK (1530 AM, 93.1 FM) came after station executives at KCRA (Channel 3) felt KFBK was using too much material from its reporters and not properly crediting stories that were repurposed for radio, according to two sources familiar with the issue.

A production employee at KFBK confirmed to The Desk on Wednesday that KCRA had expressed concern about its editorial partnership and was winding it down, but did not know the circumstances behind the move. The employee asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak to reporters about station business.

Under the partnership, KCRA meteorologists delivered co-branded weather reports during KFBK-produced news broadcasts in the morning and early evenings and allowed KFBK producers to use snippets of news material gathered by KCRA reporters and photographers in KFBK’s news stories.

The partnership, known in the broadcast industry as a content sharing agreement, was established after KFBK ended a similar agreement with KCRA rival KXTV (Channel 10).

Content sharing agreements not unusual arrangements among media companies, and executives at television and radio stations see those partnerships as a way to add more information and value to news stories that are likely to be covered by most or all outlets in a given area. Editorial partnerships tend to be formed in major media markets among competitors to ease the burden of personnel and equipment expenses, though in Sacramento such agreements are usually arranged amongst non-competing news outlets.

Recently, KCRA executives became worried that its partnership with KFBK was unbalanced, with the television station producing a copious amount of content for the radio station and seeing little return on KFBK’s end. Those concerns were heightened when KCRA employees started recognizing news clips produced by its reporters and photojournalists on KFBK’s news shows that were not being properly attributed to the television station, sources said.

KCRA News Director Derek Schnell and General Manager Elliott Troshinsky did not return inquiries from The Desk seeking comment. KCRA is owned by Hearst Television, a subsidiary of publishing giant Hearst Communications.

The wind-down of the partnership was one of several blows delivered to KFBK staff this week after employees there learned long-time morning show host Dan Mitchinson would be exiting the station. Mitchinson co-hosted the KFBK Morning News alongside former KXTV anchor Cristina Mendonsa.

News of Mitchinson’s departure was first reported on Twitter by KFBK’s former senior editor Judy Farah.

A source with close ties to the station said Mitchinson’s departure came due to ratings issues with KFBK’s Morning News program. The station has not formally announced Mitchinson’s departure.

KFBK Program Director Bill White did not return an email from The Desk seeking comment. KFBK is owned by iHeartMedia, formerly known as Clear Channel.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).