There's been a change tonight in the Central Illinois Television Market.
The parent companies of WEEK-TV, Granite Broadcasting and WHOI-TV, Barrington Broadcasting announced a plan today to merge operations and run both stations under what is called a "shared services agreement."
This means News 25 and HOI-19 will be combining their considerable resources to produce news and public affairs programming out of the WEEK studios in East Peoria. WEEK and WHOI's General Manager, Mark DeSantis explained the benefits of the merger,
"For the first time in 15 years, local news will be available at 5:30 and world news will be available at 6 o'clock. This was a program schedule HOI used a number of years ago very successfully"
For you viewers, here are the changes, HOI-19's early news moves to 5:30 p.m. Then ABC's World News Tonight on WHOI moves to 6:00 p.m., providing nightly national news so those working later now have access to the national and international information in a new and more convenient time period.
News 25 at 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. stays the same as will the morning and 10 p.m. newscasts on both stations. Jen Christensen will continue to anchor HOI-19's newscasts and HOI-19's popular Sports Director Jim Mattson will join forces with News 25's Lee Hall to make up the best and most aggressive sports team in Central Illinois. News 25's popular Weather Man Lee Ranson will give the forecasts for both stations.
The two stations will produce newscasts with the combined staffs of both broadcast teams. In fact, the combination of the two companies will marry programming for many stations including the local NBC and ABC affiliates as well as My 59-WAOE, the CW and Weather Plus. Fully five television platforms will be housed under one roof and one combined operation.
Such "shared services agreements" are designed to create operating efficiencies. Granite and Barrington Broadcasting Officials say technology makes it easier to run several stations out of a joint facility with fewer people and operational expenses.
Barrington Broadcasting officials have not released details of expense and staff reductions, but say those affected will receive a generous severance package, health insurance coverage and extensive job placement assistance will be offered at Company expense.
DeSantis says serving the community remains the company's number one goal whether it's through Relay for Life, St. Jude or the numerous other programs run by each station.
" We see it as the footprint of both stations working together for community outreach significantly improves our ability to touch the community in ways we haven't been able to before."