Dinges: San Antonio’s newest newscast originates from Austin

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Dinges: San Antonio’s newest newscast originates from Austin

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San Antonio’s newest TV newscast is produced right here in Austin.

Yes, you read that right. A new 24-hour news channel launched this month in the Alamo City originates from the Time Warner Cable News studios near the University of Texas campus and features the same anchors and weathercasters we’ve been accustomed to seeing for years on the Austin edition of Time Warner Cable News (formerly YNN and, before that, News 8 Austin).

Both channels are available exclusively to Time Warner Cable subscribers.

The cable giant has established a small newsroom in San Antonio with four reporters — three for news, one for sports — who send stories back to Austin to be included in the broadcasts, according to Michael Pearson, who serves as news director for both the Austin and San Antonio news channels. The hope, he said, is to add more San Antonio-based journalists over time.

In Austin, meanwhile, Time Warner Cable News has about 100 employees — news anchors, photographers, producers, managers and more. Together, they now produce 48 hours of local news each day — 24 for Austin and 24 for San Antonio. Some broadcasts on both channels are live, while others are pre-recorded.

“We’ve been wanting to do this for a long time now,” Pearson said. “I finally got the green light during the budget process last year.”

This isn’t the first time Time Warner Cable has launched a local news channel in San Antonio. About a decade ago, the cable giant teamed up with Belo, the former owner of San Antonio’s CBS affiliate, to launch News 9 San Antonio, building studios and offices near downtown San Antonio. That channel died, however, after the two companies decided to part ways.

By not partnering with another broadcaster — and with operations primarily based in Austin, which greatly reduces expenses — the business model is different this time, Pearson said, and Time Warner Cable is in it for the long haul.

“I know San Antonio news,” said Pearson, who spent time working for print and broadcast news outlets in San Antonio before moving to Austin in 2000 to join the Time Warner Cable team. “I know what they’re lacking. I understand the city well.”

Time Warner Cable News hopes to differentiate itself from its competitors by staying hyper-local and by steering clear of the daily dose of blood-and-guts crime news San Antonio stations are notorious for delivering each night.

“Our goal is to be neighborhood-oriented, just like we are in Austin,” Pearson said. “Look at schools, for instance. There are more than 17 school districts in the San Antonio area, and none of the TV stations in that market are covering them.”

The fact that Time Warner Cable News broadcasts all day, every day — not just at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. like most over-the-air broadcast stations — gives the channel an advantage, as well.

“We’re not about appointment TV,” Pearson said. “People ought to be able to turn us on whenever they want.”

Already, after barely a week on the air, Pearson said response from viewers — and potential advertisers — has been positive.

“People are telling us it’s refreshing,” he said. “One thing, in particular, that’s been delightful is the support of the business community. They’ve been hungry for our style of news.”

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