CW33 no longer has a news division after a recent round of layoffs and cutbacks.
The station's parent company, Tribune Media, laid off 68 employees from its Dallas TV station, according to filings made by Tribune with the Texas Workforce Commission.
The layoffs led to the cancellation of CW33's morning news program Morning Dose and prime-time news show NewsFix, according to an internal memo distributed to the station's employees on Sept. 6 by Tribune's president of broadcast media, Larry Wert.
"Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of a lot of talented employees, these shows haven’t delivered the ratings or the revenue we hoped for when they were launched," Wert wrote in the memo. "The decision to discontinue any show is never easy and we don’t do it lightly. We understand that these decisions affect the lives of good people who gave their best efforts to achieve success; we hope to give many of them the opportunity to transition to new roles elsewhere in our station group."
The station aired the final episode of NewsFix last Friday and replaced the show with the nationally syndicated news program DailyMailTV. Morning Dose remains on the station's schedule through September. A Tribune official declined to offer any further comment beyond Wert's memo.
CW33's news division learned about the layoffs shortly after Tribune filed its worker adjustment and retraining notification (WARN) with the Texas Workforce Commission on Sept. 1. Several employees posted on their social media pages about the pending layoffs and the show's cancellation.
"Everyone brought their A-game every day," NewsFix's managing editor, Mark Shepard, wrote on his Facebook page. "Everyone brought a great attitude every day. I'd be honored to work with any of them again. And even on days when equipment failed or we were outnumbered by the competition on a big story, we never gave up. The best part: we knew how good we had it and we were thankful for it."
NewsFix, a fast-paced news program that replaced the traditional news anchor broadcast with voice-overs and footage-driven presentations, premiered in 2011 on KIAH in Houston. Tribune added a second NewsFix show to its Dallas affiliate, KDAF, in 2014 and later to WSFL in Miami, according to the station's website.
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Morning Dose, a show that focused on the news through the lens of social trends and conversation, launched last year in six local markets as part of a partnership with the data-driven digital media group Dose Media that replaced CW33's local morning news show EyeOpener, according to Tribune.
The layoffs and cancellations came on the heels of Tribune's termination of its merger agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group, the nation's largest television station owner, which has received criticism for pushing conservative-leaning programming into its stations' local news broadcasts. Both media companies are engaged in a civil lawsuit filed in the Delaware Court of Chancery over the botched deal that would have put CW33 under Sinclair's umbrella along with more than 190 stations in almost 90 broadcast markets, according to its website.
The deal came under scrutiny by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last July when Chairman Ajit Pai expressed his concern about the deal in a letter he wrote on July 23 to U.S. Rep Tony Cárdenas, a California Democrat, and recommended a hearing before an administrative law judge on the merger plans "to determine whether Sinclair affirmatively misrepresented or omitted material facts with the intent to consummate this transaction without fully complying with our broadcast ownership rules."
Tribune ended its merger agreement and filed a lawsuit against Sinclair for breach of contract on Aug. 9. Tribune alleges that Sinclair violated the terms of its merger by engaging in "unnecessarily aggressive and protracted negotiations with the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission over regulatory requirements" and refusing to sell stations in certain markets to obtain the FCC's approval for the merger, according to a statement from Tribune.