Chicago TV news startups still up in the air

CBS 2 Chicago

The coronavirus pandemic threatens to delay the launch of two ambitious new Chicago-based television news operations in the coming months.

CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 had announced plans to roll out CBSN Local, a 24/7 streaming news service, by the end of March. But in light of everything else going on, CBS 2 officials said Monday they don’t know when the service will start up.

Featuring locally anchored programming, live breaking news coverage and archived, on-demand local news content, similar ventures already are operating out of CBS stations in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Philadelphia.

News Nation

Questions also surround the launch of a live daily national newscast on WGN America, the Chicago-based cable network owned by Nexstar Media Group. “News Nation,” a three-hour primetime newscast originating from a newsroom and studio at WGN-Channel 9, was to have debuted this summer.

Hiring began in January on a staff that eventually will exceed 120, according to the company. But the handful of employees who’ve been hired have been unable to report to work because of stay-at-home orders.

Jennifer Lyons, vice president of news for WGN America, said Monday the network is still moving ahead for a planned summer debut, but added: “It’s too early to know if COVID-19 will impact our launch.”

A Nexstar source said “News Nation” will emphasize weather, adding: “With our meteorologists all over the country it makes sense for us to be heavy into weather as well.”

Monday’s comment of the day: Carol Haan Morris: Great idea, WGN! All those visuals translate so well on radio!