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WIBW-TV will be providing news and weather 24/7 for Kansas cable channel

September 14, 2003
The Capital-Journal

At midnight on Sept. 22, WIBW-TV will begin providing news and weather broadcasts for a 24-hour Kansas cable news channel to be aired by Cox Communications.

Dubbed Kansas Now 22, the channel is a joint effort of Cox, WIBW and KAKE-TV in Wichita. Both television stations are owned by Gray MidAmerica Television Inc., of Atlanta. The new 24-hour programming will air on Cox Channel 22.

"We're looking for ways to expand our service to our viewers and listeners," said Mike DeLier, general manager of WIBW-TV. "Cable seemed a good opportunity for us."

He said the Topeka and Wichita stations each would provide about half of the programming, with Cox providing the transmission services and administering advertising sales. The new channel has been in the works for the past year, DeLier said, and was part of WIBW's decision to add weekend morning news broadcasts earlier this year.

"We've got people in place virtually all day long," DeLier said, noting the station produces 22 hours of live news programming each week.

He said the cable channel will include all Kansas programming, including current WIBW news broadcasts, aired at different times, and live news and weather. Additional programming, such as coach's shows and sporting events, are possible in the future.

Kristin Peck, director of public affairs for Cox Communications, said similar channels have been created by Cox in other markets across the country.

"This is an opportunity for us to provide unique programming to our customers," she said.

Peck compared the format to the Bloomberg News channel. It will have constant news updates scrolled across the bottom and continuously updated statewide weather on the side of the screen.

Cox has service in 90 Kansas communities, reaching 320,000 cable subscribers. The network stretches from Garden City to Pittsburg and includes Topeka, Wichita, Manhattan, Salina and Arkansas City.

DeLier said he expected to hire more news and production staff, though he didn't know how many. He said details still were being discussed as the stations finalized the channel's programming schedule.

The addition of the 24-hour news channel is among efforts by WIBW to expand its coverage across the state. DeLier said that for the past six months, the station has been forming partnerships with radio stations across northeast Kansas to provide news as part of a network called 13 Radio News.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.