TV news and notes: WFLD/WPWR gets "Better"

A lot of television news and notes for a Monday:

– Fox’s duopoly in Chicago (WFLD and WPWR) has acquired Meredith’s Better for airing this fall. The acquisition of the lifestlyle magazine show was a part of a deal that also included Fox duopolies in Orlando (WOFL/WRBW) and Houston (KRIV/KTXH). The program was also renewed at NBC affiliate WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee, where the show is currently is in its 3rd season.

The Chicago clearance is the largest in the nation for Better, which now stands at nearly 50 percent of the country.

The program features brands from Meredith’s magazine portfolio (like Better Homes and Gardens.), presented in a PM Magazine-like fashion. Better airs on Meredith’s TV station group, which includes CBS affiliate KCTV in Kansas City, Fox affiliate KPTV in Portland, Ore., CBS affiliate WGCL-TV in Atlanta, and CBS affiliate KPHO-TV in Phoenix. The program airs on other station group including outlets belonging to LIN (CBS affiliate WISH-TV in Indianapolis) and Belo.

– WFLD also made news today by announcing the hiring of former WGN-TV and WBBM-TV reporter Joanie Lum. Ms. Lum will appear on the station Good Day Chicago morning program beginning on April 19. Ms. Lum was let go from WBBM last April in a cost-cutting move.

– NBC-owned WMAQ-TV has launched a new blog for political fanatics. titled Ward Room (obviously named after Chicago’s electoral jurisdiction), the site will cover politics in Chicago and around the country, and follow nine politicians whose actions impact Chicagoans everyday from Mayor Richard M. Daley to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (even an ex-pol is being followed – former Governor Rod Blagoveich, currently of Celebrity Apprentice.)

Contributors will include political reporters Mary Ann Ahern and Phil Rogers, and political analyst and Chicago Tonight contributor Carol Marin. Chicago Sun-Times’ Jack Higgins is also contributing to the site with his famous political cartoons.

– In Los Angeles, CBS-owned duopoly of KCBS-TV and KCAL-TV laid off 20 news staffers from its Studio City, Cal. facilities on Friday, a continuing trend in the business due to the recession that has hit the television industry hard. This comes as a study on Los Angeles television newscasts was recently released, blasting the market’s news operations for their lack of coverage on education and government issues,and relying instead on the usual diet of crime, violence, and celebrity gossip.