WGN America to get a nightly news broadcast this summer

Nexstar Media Group says three-hour show will be produced in Chicago.

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The WGN studios at 2501 W. Bradley Place in 2017.

Nexstar Media Group said it will launch a nightly three-hour cable newscast based in Chicago and airing on its WGN America network.

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Nexstar Media Group said Wednesday it will launch a nightly three-hour cable newscast based in Chicago and airing on its WGN America network.

The show, to be called “News Nation,” will debut during the summer and is intended to fill a programming niche as the cable news networks rely on opinion shows and the “talking heads” interview format. Nexstar said “News Nation,” airing from 7 to 10 p.m. Central time, will emphasize unbiased reporting drawn from 110 Nexstar-owned stations around the country.

The program will be produced at a studio to be finished at Nexstar’s WGN-Channel 9 in Chicago. It will not air on Channel 9, however, Nexstar spokesman Gary Weitman said.

Weitman said about 120 people will be hired for the broadcast, and executives hope it will start in July. Jennifer Lyons, former vice president and news director at WGN-TV, will oversee the effort. Other talent hires have yet to be announced.

Sean Compton, executive vice president of WGN America, said “News Nation” will fill a programming void.

“No one else is delivering news in prime time,” he said. “Others are airing entertainment programming, sports programming or opinion shows, which creates a great opportunity for WGN America to provide an alternative in this daypart with‘News Nation.’ Across our markets, we consistently hear from viewers who are seeking straight-ahead, unbiased news reporting that is grounded in fact, not opinion.‘News Nation’ will deliver exactly that.”

The program will replace syndicated entertainment shows ending their run on WGN America, so the fiscal impact on Nexstar should be minimal, Chairman Perry Sook said.

Sook said Nexstar has the largest newsgathering organization in the country, with 5,400 journalists in 110 newsrooms, including a presence in 20 state capitals. “We get to the scene of important breaking news first and provide live coverage delivered by reporters who know the local community and can provide the proper context for what’s happening. This is a powerful combination and gives us a great foundation on which to build‘News Nation’,” he said.

Executives said the program will be supported by a digital team working 24 hours and an upcoming mobile app.

Nexstar took over the WGN operations last year as part of its acquisition of Tribune Media. It shut down the local CLTV cable news channel at the end of the year.

The deal also brought WGN 720-AM into the fold. It is the company’s only radio station. On Monday, Nexstar abruptly severed a partnership deal with Crain’s Chicago Business after the publication ran a story speculating the radio station will be sold.

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