Sinclair Broadcast Group is pulling local news from its Toledo NBC affiliate, a move that was described as a way to “ensure our long-term success.”
Starting May 15, WNWO (Channel 24, NBC) will replace its local newscasts during the day with “The National Desk,” a Sinclair-produced newscast that launched in January 2021.
The National Desk “offers an alternative choice for news and provides an opportunity for local news cut-ins,” a spokesperson for WNWO wrote in a statement to viewers this week.
The decision to pull local news from WNWO was first reported by FTV Live, a website that covers the business of local broadcast outlets. The report was based on a Facebook post made by WNWO photographer Mikey Fairchild, who wrote that the decision to stop producing local newscasts “came out of the blue.”
“We tried our damndest to stay up there with the big boys, and we did give them hell, but as they say, it is what it is,” Fairchild wrote. “Corporate may have given up on us, but I will never give up on the people I work with.”
WNWO hasn’t produced a newscast of its own since 2017, when Sinclair closed the station’s studios and moved production and anchoring duties to South Bend CBS affiliate WSBT (Channel 22). For six years, a skeleton crew of reporters and photographers was kept in place at WNWO, with newscasts hosted by WSBT anchors.
In Toledo, WNWO competed against Gray-owned ABC affiliate WTVG (Channel 13) and TEGNA’s WTOL (Channel 11, CBS) for viewers. WNWO often placed last in the local news ratings.
The shuttering of WNWO’s newscasts mirrors a similar decision made at Southern Oregon’s KTVL (Channel 10, CBS), which will lay off its entire newsroom in mid-May and replace local news programming with The National Desk as well.
The moves appear to be part of a cost-cutting measure at Sinclair where underperforming newsrooms are closed in favor of the nationally-syndicated news program.