Staff at South Bend Station basically Told they are Screwed

Well, we hate to say we told you so (actually we don't), but the staff at Quincy owned WSJV, learned that they will soon be out of a job and their station affiliation is going to Sinclair. 

The South Bend Tribune reports that in a move that will put two local news operations under the same roof, the 40-plus employees at WSJV-TV (Fox 28) learned Monday that WSBT-TV (Channel 22) will take over the Fox affiliation on Aug 1.

Quincy Media, the family-owned parent company of WSJV that has run a local news operation here for more than 40 years, entered into a business agreement to transfer the Fox affiliation to Sinclair Broadcast Group, the parent company of WSBT, according to Ralph Oakley, president and chief executive officer of Quincy.

Viewers won't lose any Fox programming, such as sitcoms and professional sports. Starting Aug. 1, over-the-air and cable television viewers will notice "Fox Michiana" offered on different channels.

For over-the-air viewers, the move will mean Fox programming and the local news operation will move from channel 28 to 22.2 as a digital subchannel offered by WSBT, a CBS affiliate. The existing SBT2 subchannel 22.2 will become Fox Michiana. To make room for the new subchannel, the existing First Alert Weather subchannel 22.3 will go off the air.

Fox will appear on channel 30 for Dish Network viewers and channel 16 for Comcast viewers, according to a WSBT report.

In a Q&A on WSBT's website, it stated that officials there are negotiating with other local providers who do not currently carry channel 22.2 to have them add the channel to their lineup.

WSJV, meanwhile, will continue to run its Elkhart-based station with two employees. It will only continue to offer Heroes & Icons network, which offers a mix of classic shows.

A major shake-up, meanwhile, is anticipated for WSJV employees. Some are expected to transfer to other television stations owned by the Quincy, Ill.-based parent company, Oakley said, while others will lose their jobs. "We will be talking with many of our employees about opportunities at our other stations throughout our company, and we'll also be talking with them about severance," he said.

Some WSJV employees are expected to be hired by Sinclair, which will operate a second news operation under the Fox affiliate. A call was not returned Monday by John Nizamis, general manger of WSBT.

Quincy's decision to no longer cover local news in the region's 10-county primary market comes as there is "large consolidation going on" in the industry, Oakley said. "We have thoroughly enjoyed our opportunity to be involved in the Michiana region for over 40 years and will continue to operate a station, but in a far different way. It's a unique set of circumstances that brought us to this decision."

While Sinclair is expected to hire some employees from WSJV, Burdick said, there will probably be several newsroom positions that won't be needed. "WSBT will likely look at some positions and decide they don't need to replicate those bodies," she said, adding that reporters could cover news for both WSBT and the Fox affiliate. "We don't know if there will be more reporters who on a day-by-day basis will cover stories for either Fox, WSBT, or both."