Citing demand for more local news programming, WCAX-TV announced Wednesday it's expanding its coverage to Saturday and Sunday mornings. Starting September 7, the station will air an hour of local news at 8 a.m. both days.
"The public has asked us to do it," says WCAX news director Anson Tebbetts. "News is, as you know, seven days a week."
The station will be the first in the Burlington-Plattsburgh television market to offer locally produced programing weekend mornings, which WCAX owner Peter Martin says are growing more and more essential.
"Morning news — not just here, but around the country — has become almost a center of gravity. People want it and watch it in surprisingly large numbers," Martin says. "There is a set of advertisers — for instance, automobile companies — who are anxious to reach people who watch news."
"We're going to wish them well," WPTZ news director Sinan Sadar said. "More news is better for everybody."
Neither Tebbetts nor Martin would say precisely how many new hires the station would make to staff the shows, though Martin said, "There will be at least several." Tebbetts said some existing on-air staff might also shift to the weekend time slots.
According to Martin, the independently owned WCAX is "doing okay, doing fine, year-to-date so far," though he said consolidation within the broadcast television industry was a challenge. Political spending in New Hampshire, a swing-state, and New York has been a boon, he says.
"It can be quite big. It all depends on sort of what the state of political play is," he says. "And then of course there's been issue advertising, super PACs and all that."
Photo of Tebbetts announcing WCAX's news expansion courtesy of Kristin Kelly.
Disclosure: WCAX and Seven Days are media partners.