- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 13, 2006

WTTG-TV (Channel 5) already had the longest, and most watched, local late-night news program in Washington, but the Fox station soon will extend its show even further and face direct competition.

Beginning next month, WTTG will extend its hourlong 10 p.m. newscast to 11:30 p.m., where it will compete head-to-head in the last half-hour with WRC-TV (Channel 4), WUSA-TV (Channel 9) and WJLA-TV (Channel 7).

WTTG was the most-watched late-night news show in the area based on last month’s “sweeps” ratings, edging out WRC’s 11 p.m. newscast in total viewers.

But the NBC-owned station continued its local news dominance by winning every head-to-head matchup for total viewers.

The extended WTTG newscast will begin sometime next month, but an exact start date and on-air personalities have not been finalized, Fox Television Stations Inc. in New York confirmed yesterday.

Duffy Dyer, WTTG’s general manager, declined to comment.

Local TV insiders said they have known about the WTTG’s plans for a few months, and the station has promised some major changes with on-air commercials that preview big changes in July.

“We’re very happy with our 11 o’clock newscast,” said Bill Lord, vice president of news at Allbritton’s WJLA-TV (Channel 7), an ABC affiliate, and NewsChannel 8, declining to comment specifically on WTTG’s pending move. “I don’t foresee any changes in what we do.”

WJLA finished third at 11 p.m. last month, behind WRC and Gannett-owned WUSA.

“It will be interesting to see what happens, because at 10 o’clock, they’re the only game in town,” said Darryll Green, president and general manager of WUSA, a CBS affiliate.

“But our focus will be on continuing to provide a good product.”

WRC executives declined to comment yesterday.

“Geraldo at Large,” hosted by Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera, currently airs at 11 p.m. on WTTG, but will be pushed back a half-hour to accommodate the newscast extension.

“Washington, D.C., is a very heavy news town,” said Andrew Tyndall, a network-news analyst who produces the weekly “Tyndall Report,” which monitors the networks’ weekday nightly newscasts.

“This says more to me about ‘Geraldo at Large’ than the strength of WTTG’s news. This is more of a thumbs down for Geraldo.”

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