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Posted Nov 15, 2011, 11:36 am
Tucson's Fox affiliate, KMSB Channel 11, told employees Tuesday morning that it will lay off its entire news team and cancel its local news broadcasts in February, sources said Tuesday.
Some 40-50 staffers will lose their jobs, including reporters, engineers and other station personnel, sources said.
The station will contract with KOLD, the local CBS station, to produce local news broadcasts, employees said they were told.
KOLD will produce a 7-9 a.m. morning show, in addition to the current 9 p.m. news cast, for broadcast on KMSB. KOLD will also take over operation of KMSB's website.
The move will be effective Feb. 1, said a source, who requested anonymity.
"It's horrible," said the employee, who learned of the news at a Tuesday morning staff meeting.
"The bottom line is we were hoping to expand and add a morning newscast," the source said. "This is the worst-cast scenario."
"Running an operation like that is not cheap," another said. "Even though we're the smallest news department in Tucson."
KMSB employees declined to comment on the record about the cancellation of the newscast. One staffer had yet to hear the news when contacted by TucsonSentinel.com.
KMSB management did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Some KMSB staffers were laid off from other media organizations, including the Tucson Citizen and more recently Journal Broadcast Group.
The newscast's end adds to the significant number of Tucson journalists who have lost their jobs working for out-of-town corporate owners. In July, the Arizona Daily Star fired 52 reporters, editors, production personnel and other staffers.
"The media business is in an interesting stretch right now," one KMSB staffer said ironically.
Some staffers may be offered jobs with KOLD to work on that station's newscast, employees were told.
Others may be able to transfer within the Dallas-based Belo television chain, which operates 20 TV stations around the country. Those who are laid off will be given a severance package that includes 6 weeks' pay, sources said.
While Belo will maintain an advertising sales staff, all news reporting and production staffers will work for Raycom, KOLD's parent company.
The KMSB building at 1855 N. 6th Ave. is owned by Belo.
"The building will likely be sold or leased. It will be empty in a matter of months," one about-to-be laid-off employee said.
Employees were told that a lack of advertising revenue led to the newscast cancellation.