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Oprah Plan May Change Local News Battle

The announcement that Oprah Winfrey plans to retire her talk show in September of 2011 probably will have repercussions on local news throughout the country.

In Buffalo, Winfrey's 4 p.m. show has provided a strong lead-in for years to Channel 4, the local news leader.

In fact, one of the issues cited in the demise of Channel 7's news department was the station's decision to let Winfrey's expensive show go and allow it to move to Channel 4.

Winfrey's show isn't as dominant at 4 p.m. as it once was but it still wins its time slot here opposite "Ellen" on Channel 2 and "The Doctors" on Channel 7. Channel 4 has two years to find a syndicated replacement for Winfrey. Whoever or whatever the replacement is, it is unlikely to be as powerful as Oprah's show.

But there is a bit of good news for Channel 4, too. Her syndicated show is very expensive for stations to buy. That expense will undoubtedly drop substantially. The question is what will be the cost to News 4 at 5 and the rest of the 90-minute early evening news block?

-- Alan Pergament  

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