HONOLULU (KHNL) - A major shift in the local media landscape means one company will own KHNL and KGMB. Raycom Media, this station's parent company, will enter a "shared services agreement" with MCG Capital, the current owner of KGMB. Under the agreement, MCG Capitol will operate K5 the Hometeam. This will mean layoffs, a number yet to be determined, according to Raycom executives.
For the average viewer, it should be seamless. NBC programming will stay at KHNL, and CBS programming will stay at KGMB. The newsroom of both stations will become the biggest television newsroom in the state, which means the newscast you're seeing now could be the same one you're seeing on KGMB.
The way Hawaii covers television news is changing. Raycom Media, the parent company of KHNL and K5, has entered a "shared services agreement" with MCG Capital, the owner of KGMB. This means, the newsroom of KHNL and KGMB will be consolidated into one.
"As a way to sustain a level of service, this is the path we have chosen to take," said Paul McTear, president and CEO of Raycom Media. "And we believe it is in the best interest of the market, the people of Hawaii, and the employees of the station."
The economic slowdown and the fragmentation of TV audience have made TV news not as profitable as it used to be. In 2006, Hawaii TV stations' collective revenue was $68 million. This year, it's down to $48 million, a loss of $20 million or a 29 percent drop.
"I've been in this business for over 30 years now, and I've never seen it, and all of us now, in the macrodynamics of the economy as a whole, more than the television industry, the velocity and the contraction of ad dollars is unlike anything," said Rick Blangiardi, KGMB's general manager.
While this is obviously bad news for employees at both stations who will be let go, UH journalism professor Gerald Kato say it's also bad for local journalism.
"News in a democracy relies heavily on a marketplace of ideas, diversity of ideas, diversity of voices," he said. "Homogenization of voices really hurts the democratic values with which broadcasting industry was set up."
But Raycom executives say this was the best way to go. Some markets lost newsrooms all together: the CBS affiliate in Syracuse, New York, no longer does news, as is the case with the NBC station in Peoria, Illinois.
"So you can look at those markets as recent examples what happens when you don't do something like this when you try to share services, there's a loss, a total loss in the marketplace," said John Fink, KHNL/K5's general manager.
Still, Kato worries what this means when one entity controls three out of five stations in the market.
"Where there's excessive market power, freedom of expression is imperiled, and I do believe schemes such as this imperil the marketplace of ideas," he said.
But this is not unique to Hawaii, and Raycom executives say the combined force of KHNL and KGMB will be able to better serve Hawaii and its people.
"We're going to be far more flexible to provide viewership opportunities to sample news throughout the day, only multitude of channels," said McTeague.