More news is never enough at WTMJ

Now the Favre watch never ends.

Journal Communications’ WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee is adding a 3 p.m. newscast to its lineup beginning Sept. 8, as well as adding a 6:30 p.m. newscast at the end of August, which displaces the Warner Bros.-syndicated Extra from the time slot.

The move brings the total number of local news hours at the NBC affiliate to seven hours a day.

WTMJ is also scrapping syndicated programming from its daily schedule, with the exception of Better TV, which is on in only a handful of markets. The opportunity comes as Montel Williams’ talk show is out of production and declined to renew Extra. The entire NBC daytime schedule (including Days of Our Lives) continues to be cleared.

The station is mainly relying on local programming and news to grab viewers throughout the day instead of forking money and commercial time over to a syndicator. At one time, WTMJ carried high-rated syndicated fare such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, Wheel of Fortune, Jepoardy!, Jerry Springer, Family Feud (the Ray Combs-hosted version), and Little House on the Prarie.

This isn’t an entirely new concept – in the 1980’s and 1990’s, KCNC-TV in Denver aired no syndicated programming during the week and aired more news and local programming instead. This came to an end for the most part in September 1995 when then-owner NBC swapped KCNC over to CBS as part of a complicated deal to gain an O&O in Philadelphia (WCAU-TV.) KCNC started airing syndicated fare such as Oprah in early fringe and Hollywood Squares in prime access (until 2004, when the show was canceled and replaced by a returning local newscast.)

From 1970 to 1992, ABC-owned KTRK-TV in Houston also relived heavily on local programming and movies to fill out its daily schedule and shunned all syndicated daily strip programming, with the execption of Donahue.

Ironically, the news expansion in Milwaukee comes as another Journal station in Green Bay (WGBA-TV) is cutting newscasts.