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NBC launching local news channels in 3 states; watchdog criticizes efforts so far

May 2, 2011 | 11:29 am

NBC is launching 24-hour news channels in California, Texas and Florida.

The news initiative is part of a commitment NBC and its new majority owner, Comcast Corp., made to the Federal Communications Commission in exchange for approval of their $30-billion merger. Comcast committed to producing an additional 1,000 hours of local news on its NBC stations and another 1,000 hours for its Telemundo stations. The channels will launch this week.

In California, NBC will use the resources of its TV stations KNBC Los Angeles, KNTV San Francisco and KNSD San Diego as the backbone of the digital channel. KNBC will produce a local newscast for the channel at 7 p.m. The channel will be available only in those three markets, but the focus of the channel will be statewide as well as local.

NBC will also use its stations in Dallas and Miami to create all-news channels and probably will push the project to other markets in the months ahead.

Also Monday, a public interest group blasted NBC and Comcast's compliance with the FCC requirements to date. While acknowledging that the Comcast-NBC Universal merger has been closed only a couple of months, media watchdog Free Press accused NBC of failing to comply with the regulatory agency's reporting requirements and hinted that the numbers NBC and Comcast provided to the FCC about its local programming may be half baked.

Free Press said a recent FCC filing by Comcast and NBC did not include program descriptions of their local news shows. "Without these descriptions, the public and the FCC cannot accurately determine whether the programming listed actually constitutes local news and information programming," Free Press said.

Free Press also claimed the companies may have "over-counted" the amount of local programming its stations currently carry. "It is not clear whether any of the programming tallies in the localism reports include the airing of duplicative segments or rerun programming that was repurposed and aired at another time," the group said.

An NBC spokesman declined to comment on the Free Press report.

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FCC asks wrong questions in request to Comcast

-- Joe Flint

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