- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 11, 2002

Fox affiliate WTTG-TV (Channel 5) will begin an afternoon newscast this fall, entering a part of the television schedule that is undergoing dramatic changes.
The hour-long news show will begin in September. It is expected to air weekdays at 5 p.m., where it will compete with local newscasts on the ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates.
The announcement was made yesterday by Lachlan Murdoch, deputy chief operating officer of News Corp., the station's parent company. Station management would not discuss the matter, but newsroom staffers confirmed Mr. Murdoch's announcement.
"There were cheers [when the announcement was made]," said one staffer, who asked to not be named.
WTTG already has the top-rated show on weekdays at 5 p.m., the syndicated "Judge Judy" courtroom show.
During the February ratings sweep, a 28-day period when TV stations set advertising rates, an average 127,680 homes tuned into "Judge Judy." During the same period, 17,040 homes tuned into WRC's local news, while 89,376 homes tuned into WJLA and 80,864 homes tuned into WUSA, according to Nielsen Media Research Inc.
WTTG is expected to move "Judge Judy" to weekdays at 4 p.m. to make room for its new newscast. "Judy" will compete with WJLA's "The Oprah Winfrey Show," which has ruled that time slot for more than a decade.
Ratings for "Oprah" have faded in recent years. Miss Winfrey recently announced she will end the show in 2006.
For decades, WTTG courted young viewers in the afternoons with a mix of cartoons and old sitcoms. In December, it dropped the cartoons, which had lost viewers as after-school audiences increasingly turned to cable and the Internet.
Lachlan Murdoch, the son of News Corp. media titan Rupert Murdoch and a rising star in the family business, was in Washington yesterday to help the station make budgetary decisions, newsroom staffers said.
The staffers said it is not clear who will anchor the new afternoon show.
The station is also seeking a replacement for Mike Landess, the popular anchor of its weeknight 10 p.m. newscast, who left last month.
WTTG pioneered the prime time local newscast in 1966. It began its morning news show in 1990.

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