BSU Professor Weighs in on Indy TV 'Earthquake'

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A Ball State University telecommunications professor and former national news correspondent calls Monday's announcement that CBS Corp. is moving its Indianapolis affiliate from WISH-TV to WTTV-TV "the largest shake up" in the market in decades. Phil Bremen believes the move could boost ratings of other stations not involved in the change. August 11, 2014

News Release

MUNCIE, Ind. - Ball State telecommunications professor Phil Bremen says today's announcement that CBS programming will move from WISH-TV to WTTV-4 starting next year is the largest shake up in the local television market in decades.

"This is just huge because WISH has always been a CBS affiliate," says Bremen, who worked for NBC News as an international correspondent and as an Indianapolis television affiliate news anchor. "I can remember CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite talking with WISH-TV reporters in his hey day. There just doesn't seem to be much loyalty in television today - or anywhere for that matter."

Tribune Broadcasting, which owns Fox 59 in Indianapolis, and CBS Corp. announced today a new contract that moves the nation's no. 1 network from LIN Media's WISH-TV in the Indianapolis market to Tribune Broadcasting’s WTTV on Jan. 1, 2015.

Bremen believes the switch may be due to retransmission rights. Cable systems pay local stations for permission to retransmit their signals. Networks have been playing hardball, demanding a greater share of the dollars their affiliates collect from cable operators.

He believes the switch opens myriad questions that need to be answered, including what will happen to WISH-TV's news operations, will WTTV-4 have news and will Fox 59 compete against the new sister-stations? And will Indianapolis residents switch their allegiances?

"WTTV-4 had local news programming decades ago, but had little else than the Indiana Pacers and IU basketball to attract viewers," Bremen says. "So, there is little history there."

"WISH-TV now loses the Colts, which is a major problem loss of viewers," he says. "However, in past cases, the winner tends to be the station that didn't switch. So, confused viewers may gravitate to WTHR-TV, the area's most popular station. The switch might also cause more people to take a look at WRTV-6, whose new owners have made considerable effort to improve its news content."

Source: Ball State University