The television station group Nexstar is launching a new national three-hour prime-time network newscast that will replace the entertainment programming on its cable channel WGN America.
The Irving, Texas-based company announced Wednesday that the newscast, called “News Nation,” will start airing this summer from 8 to 11 p.m. Eastern time. It will have a dedicated staff while also using the resources of 5,400 employees from the 100 newsrooms of Nexstar’s local stations around the country.
“News Nation” is expected to appeal to a potential audience that wants an alternative to CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, which carry commentary and partisan political discussions in prime time.
“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,” Sean Compton, executive vice president of WGN America, said in a statement.
“News Nation” will be based out of Nexstar’s WGN-TV in Chicago and run by that station’s current news director, Jennifer Lyons. Lyons’ station delivers about 70 hours a week of local news programming for the market.
Nexstar’s decision to offer news in prime time on WGN America is also a major sign of the challenges entertainment cable networks face as viewers turn to online streaming to watch scripted dramas and comedies at their convenience.
Cable entertainment channels have been seeing their audiences decline steadily in recent years as streaming has grown, while ratings for live news and sports have remained steady.
WGN America reaches 75 million cable households with its lineup of comedies and dramas that previously ran on the broadcast networks. When Sinclair Broadcast Group was attempting to buy WGN America’s previous owner, Tribune Media, there were rumblings that the company wanted to turn the cable outlet into a conservative news channel that would compete with Fox News.
Sinclair failed to make the deal due to regulatory concerns. Nexstar acquired Tribune Media last year for $4.1 billion and now owns 197 local stations that reach 64% of the country.
Nexstar stated that “News Nation” will not have a political bent.
“This will be a newscast that serves as a refuge for viewers across the country who are disenchanted with current news offerings and looking for fact-based news that’s delivered without bias or opinion,” Lyons said in a statement.