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    05 March 2009

    WNBC goes digital in big news update with new channel New York Nonstop

    NBC'S long-promised new digital channel, New York Nonstop, will launch Monday at 5 a.m. as the company's latest step to drive content to as many people as possible. New York Nonstop will be available to 5.7 million viewers on cable and over the air on digital channel 4.2. It's billed as a "local information and lifestyle channel," not just a news channel and not designed to compete directly with cable news operation NY1. "First and foremost," said Vickie Burns, vice president of news and content for WNBC and New York Nonstop, in an interview Tuesday, "it's all things New York, things that are newsworthy and interesting and engaging, and we mean New York in that universal and inclusive sense." The channel will have news updates every 15 minutes, but the only fixed show with a slight hint of a traditional newscast will be a 7 p.m. hour anchored by Chuck Scarborough (who will continue to do the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts on Ch. 4). The new channel will be built on a "pod format," using set features of various lengths, said Meredith McGinn, senior manager of special projects for NBC 4 New York. "You'll get your meat - your news, weather and headlines - every 15 minutes," McGinn said. "In between those 15 minutes, you may have a two-minute segment, a two-minute pod, a five-minute pod. So the shows we're looking at are in little bits, not your traditional half-hour newscasts." New York Nonstop will be more like NBC's local Web sites than a traditional TV station. Those sites are geared toward younger viewers who seek a mix of information. The sites often use information and clips from bloggers and third-party providers, as will New York Nonstop. McGinn said the pod structure keeps the energy level high. "It's like having your iPod on shuffle," she said. "You can't wait until the next song because you know something good is going to come, you just don't know what it is." Some of the shorter examples include "Sidewalk Stories," where a correspondent asks people about current events or about bad dates. There also will be daily and prime-time reruns of shows produced by LX.TV (the NBC-owned producer of Ch. 4's "1st Look New York" and "Open House"). Plans for the channel were revealed in May 2008, as part of a program of change at NBC's owned stations. The umbrella company is now called NBC Local Media New York. Ch. 4, New York Nonstop, the Web site and other platforms that come along are to be supplied by a new $15 million digital "content center." Advertising is being sold across the platforms, too, said Tom O'Brien, president of NBC Local Media New York. "We'll make money within the first year," he said. But the transition hasn't been easy. All off-camera staff had to apply for new multimedia positions. Some experienced people have left, and some new ones have been hired. Several familiar on-air folks, such as Jay DeDapper and Carolyn Gusoff, have been jettisoned. "Change is necessary," Burns said. "We like the results of the change. We've been very focused on what we needed to do, very focused on engaging people in that process and bringing them with us, and getting ideas and hopefully inspiration from them."
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