- Associated Press - Monday, December 22, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - When CBS switches programming to a different Indianapolis television station starting next year, there will be an increase in competition among local newscasts.

CBS Corp. announced in August that it was ending its nearly six-decade affiliation with WISH-TV with a switch to WTTV effective Jan. 1. WTTV will become the fifth Indianapolis station with daily news programs, while WISH is preparing to add four hours of newscasts a day to help fill the loss of network programming.

The new television landscape could take several months to shake out among viewers and advertising buyers, with the Indianapolis stations undergoing their first network changes since 1979.

“There’s going to be an awful lot of confusion in this market even for those paying close attention,” Rick Doyle, media director for Indianapolis-based Z Marketing Partners, told the Indianapolis Business Journal. “I can’t even begin to imagine what’s going to be going on in the minds of the viewers come January.”

WTTV, which now has prime-time shows from the low-rated CW network, will gain high-viewership CBS programs such as “Big Bang Theory” and “NCIS,” and NFL games. WISH is planning to fill weekday prime-time hours with syndicated shows such as “Access Hollywood” and reruns of “How I Met Your Mother,” along with late newscasts from 10 p.m. until 11:30 p.m.

WISH General Manager Les Vann said the station’s long history with viewers will help it be successful.

“We’re not starting from scratch here,” Vann told The Indianapolis Star. “This has been a very good television station for six decades.”

Some question whether five stations can attract enough advertising revenue to support news operations in what Nielsen Media Research says is the country’s 27th-largest TV market.

WTTV is clearly hoping to attract WISH viewers with its hiring of longtime Indianapolis news anchor Debby Knox, who retired from WISH in 2013 after more than 30 years.

For years, NBC affiliate WTHR has been the Indianapolis news ratings leader and WISH has been No. 2, with Fox affiliate WXIN close behind in several time slots. WTTV and WXIN are both owned by Chicago-based Tribune Broadcasting.

Paul Rennie, general manager of WTTV and WXIN, said he isn’t sure whether the market can support five local TV newscasts, but he’s ready to battle for viewers.

“The stations that put out the best product and connect with the community will fly, and that’s our goal,” Rennie said.

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