Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New ABC Affiliate Takes over on April 1

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New ABC Affiliate Takes over on April 1

Article excerpt

On April 1, WBSG TV-21 in Brunswick, Ga., will become

Jacksonville's new ABC affiliate and a competitor in the city's

television news business.

That date was given by Leonard Firestone, who took over as

TV-21's president and general manager last month after the

station was sold to Allbritton Communications, a

Washington-based media company that operates ABC affiliates in

six other markets.

If Firestone's schedule is met, Jacksonville viewers will begin

seeing ABC programs such as Monday Night Football, Home

Improvement, NYPD Blue and World News Tonight with Peter

Jennings on TV-21 on April Fool's Day. At the same time, the

local newscasts on TV-21 will begin focusing on Jacksonville


A zoning application was filed this week on behalf of

Allbritton to rezone 3.5 acres off Butler Boulevard for a

25,000-square-foot television studio. Firestone said the goal is

to make the Jacksonville studio TV-21's headquarters while

maintaining a satellite studio in Brunswick.

Firestone wouldn't say how many people TV-21 will employ or how

large its news operation will be in Jacksonville, except to say

it will have "a substantial news presence."

The zoning application says the Jacksonville studio "will

employ approximately 100 employees in staggered shifts." WJXT

TV-4, Jacksonville's CBS affiliate, and WTLV TV-12, the NBC

affiliate, have news staffs of about 55 to 60 people, with

overall staffs of about 125 and 140 respectively.

WJKS TV-17, the Jacksonville ABC affiliate for most of the last

30 years, will remain in business in Jacksonville, said Jim

Matthews, the station's general manager. But the loss of network

affiliation means increased expenses (syndicated programs must

be paid for) and significantly reduced revenue (networks pay

local stations to carry network programs). …

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