When the ax falls on KOHD tomorrow, the once booming city of Bend will be reduced to having only one full-time TV news station. Employees at the ABC affiliate were informed this morning that the station will become a Bend bureau for KEZI, Chambers Communications' sister station in Eugene. Bend employees will then create local packages for KEZI-produced Bend cut-ins.
Executives at KOHD and KEZI aren't yet talking, but information that we've learned, some from sources who were specifically instructed not to talk to blogs about this news, is that there will be three "one-man bands" in Bend and an anchor/producer hosting KOHD cut-ins from Eugene. We hope to have more information after laid-off employees cash their severance checks tomorrow.
KOHD launched as the United States' first HD television station to be built from the ground up in September 2007. Chambers paid an ambitious $8.5 million at auction for the station's FCC license in 2006. Their 11,000 square foot facility will now be used as KEZI's Bend bureau, if not also a shrine to media industry and Bend industry hopes during the city's population boom and before the advertising recession.
KOHD cut its weekend newscasts in a major reshuffling last summer and rearranged its evening news lineup as recently as a month ago. At the station's last Christmas party, employees were told that Chambers was committed to maintaining KOHD's news operations without cuts through 2010. KOHD equipment will now be moved to Eugene, which may enable KEZI to become that market's first station to produce newscasts in HD.
The Bend TV news market is also served by NBC affiliate KTVZ, which airs morning, evening and late newscasts each weekday, as well as half-hour shows at 6 and 11 pm on weekends. The station also produces a weekday half-hour at 10 pm on Fox affiliate and sister station KFXO. CBS affiliate KBNZ simulcasts Portland sister station KOIN's newscasts with one-minute local cut-ins.
In addition to KOHD and KEZI, Eugene-based Chambers Communications also owns KDRV in Medford and its semi-satellite KDKF in Klamath Falls, as well as Chambers Productions in Eugene and Chambers Cable in Sunriver.
KOHD's last locally-produced newscast will air tomorrow at 11 pm.
In case there's still any doubt that TV will face similar consequences to the new digital media landscape that newspapers are grappling with, here is Bend, Oregon. In my opinion, a significant difference between the consequences newspapers and TV station face will be the effect of market size. Small market newspapers continue to be in a better position than large metro dailies. Conversely, small market TV stations will probably face the negative consequences of the digital landscape before their larger market brethren.