WKPT, WAP will stop newscasts Feb. 18

KINGSPORT - WKPT-TV and WAPK Television will no longer air local newscasts effective Feb. 18 due to a rocky business terrain, a new Federal Communications Commission mandate to construct a digital station, and the national network's decision to stop payments to local affiliates for broadcasting their program.
   The Kingsport-based ABC affiliate is in negotiations with WJHL-TV, Johnson City's CBS affiliate, to become a potential news partner, providing local news, weather and sports programming produced in standard news time periods on Holston Valley Broadcasting Corp.'s television stations.
   In place of traditional, local television news coverage, originally produced by Holston Valley, WKPT and WAPK now plan to present in-depth, half-hour interview programs at least five days each week dealing with important issues, problems and needs of the communities in the Tri-Cities television market.
   "Regrettably, the current business climate coupled with the FCC mandate to construct and operate a new digital television station and the decision of the major television networks like ABC to stop paying monetary compensation to affiliates for carrying network programs has made it impossible for many small stations to maintain a traditional, local news effort and still produce a modest profit for their shareholders," said Holston Valley President George DeVault.
   At least five full-time positions will be lost as a result of the discontinuation of the Kingsport stations' local newscast.