UPDATE: WTSP bails from Tampa LNS, staff shuffled…

UPDATE: 10/24/13 9:25am – In response to our inquiries, WTSP-TV VP/GM Elliott Wiser explains what is happening with the LNS and WTSP. The local news sharing agreement that WTSP, WFTS, and WTVT have participated in since 2009, “had expired back in 2012.” Since the expiration of the LNS, WTSP (WTVT/WFTS) has continued to participate in the sharing of video/resources, Ad hoc until this past month. Wiser explained that the current LNS situation was “just not working” for the station.

On the lay-off of WTSP staffers, Wiser explains that the LNS positions (of which the three photographers had been part of) are no longer needed. However, those positions are being “repurposed in the newsroom.” While technically those three photographers are currently without a position with the station, Wiser tells FNC that they were all offered “and encouraged” to apply for the new newsroom positions. As for Tallahassee bureau reporter Dave Heller, who is a freelancer, he will continue to be used as needed.

As for the helicopter, Wiser explains that WTSP will still be participating in the sharing of the WFTS operated, generic “NEWS” helicopter. This part of the LNS agreement is separate from the video/resource LNS mentioned above. Stay tuned for any further changes.

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10/23/13 – 20:45 – Multiple sources tell Florida News Center that Tampa’s WTSP-TV is bailing from the local news sharing (LNS) agreement between the station, WTVT-TV and WFTS-TV. The order came from new VP/GM Elliott Wiser, who joined the station this past June from Bright House Networks/Bay News 9.

Sources also tell Florida News Center that three station photographers and Tallahassee bureau freelance reporter Dave Heller [right] have been laid off as a result of the LNS pull-out. Two of those photographers had been with the station for over twenty five years. WTSP has removed the photographer biography section and the bio of reporter Dave Heller from its website.

So what does this mean for the future of WTSP and for the future of the remaining LNS agreement between WTVT and WFTS? Since 2009, all three stations have been sharing a single helicopter [left] (operated by WFTS and piloted by Capt. Al Taylor), video and other resources as needed. WTSP’s former helicopter, Sky 10 was grounded in 2009. Will there be a new Sky 10?

Florida News Center has reached out to WTSP for comment. However, WTSP has yet to comment on the LNS situation or the layoffs at this time. Stay tuned to Florida News Center for the latest.

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