At a time when most television newsrooms are downsizing staff and the number of viewers watching local news is dropping, one Utah station is actually creating a newscast.
Bustos Media, which owns Spanish-language TV station Canal 23 (Channel 23) in Salt Lake City, is launching Noticias 23, a new half-hour newscast that will begin airing June 2. The station will broadcast programs at 5 and 9 p.m., and segments will include local news, weather and sports.
The station can be seen on Channel 23 through a regular over-the-air antenna and on Channel 23 on Comcast cable; it won't be available through satellite systems.
It will be the first time the station has produced television news in about four months. In the past, it aired locally produced 12- to 15-minute news capsules throughout the day.
"We stopped doing that because we were thinking about the best way to do it [would be] half-hour news instead of 12-minute news capsules," said Nelson Morán, the station's local sales manager. "Now we can come back stronger. We're going to have a little more space for local news."
Irene Caso and Rene Torcatty will anchor the news, while Michelle Ortega will forecast the weather and Morán will deliver sports news. Two others will report on local news for the station.
Canal 23 is one of four Spanish-language TV stations that service Utah. It also airs music videos, a community program, an ultimate-fighting show, a singing competition program fashioned after "American Idol" and sports and weather news capsules.
Canal 23 is jumping into the full-newscast fray, however, at a time when the number of people watching local news continues to drop.
New ratings figures were released Thursday after the May "sweeps" period, and the number of households watching the local late-night news Monday through Friday dropped again, when compared to the same time period last year.
"It's getting more and more difficult to recruit viewers to late local news," said KSL news director Con Psarras, who says more people are turning to other sources, such as the Internet, for news.
But the ratings delivered good news for KSL Channel 5, which still leads the 10 p.m., Monday-through-Friday newscasts.
KSL had an 11.6 rating, followed by KUTV Channel 2 with a 9.6 rating. Others included KSTU Channel 13, 7.6; KTVX Channel 4, 4.4 and KJZZ Channel 14, .9.
In the last three important "sweeps" months of November, March and May, when advertising rates are calculated, KSL has widened its gap against rival KUTV from a difference of a half-rating point to 2 points.