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WXIX-TV Expanding Local News To Fill 'Judge Judy' 3 p.m. Slot This Fall

Courtesy WXIX-TV
Anchors Amber Jayanth (left) and Chris Riva and meteorologist Ashley Smith debut their 3 p.m. newscast Sept. 13.

Breaking news! No more new episodes for TV's top-rated Judge Judy means WXIX-TV viewers will see breaking news at 3 p.m. weekdays this fall, as Fox 19 adds another hour to its late afternoon newscasts.

Fox 19 Now @ 3 premieres when the fall TV season launches Monday, Sept. 13, giving the station a four-hour afternoon block (3-7 p.m.), and the city's first regularly schedule 3 p.m. newscast. Channel 19 also will expand its Saturday morning news to 7-10 a.m. from 8-10 a.m. this fall.

"We'll have 68.5 hours of news a week, more than anyone is doing in the market, and probably more local news than most network affiliates across the country provide," says Debbie Bush, vice president and general manager.

WXIX-TV, which didn't have a local news team until 1993, also broadcasts local news 4:30-11 a.m. and 10-11:30 p.m.

Credit Courtesy CBS

Judge Judy will remain on Channel 19 at 2-3 p.m. this fall in reruns, since Judith Sheindlin stopped producing original episodes last year after a contentious split with CBS, which syndicates the show. She called her departure from CBS "a Bill and Melinda Gates divorce" in a Wall Street Journal story last week. Sheindlin, 78, has agreed to do a new court show, Judy Justice, for Amazon's free, ad-supported IMDb TV streaming service later this year.

On WXIX-TV this fall, Judge Judy will continue to play a crucial role in launching newscasts by airing immediately before Fox 19 Now @3.

When the station launched Tricia Macke's Fox 19 @ 4 in August 2018, it was sandwiched between Judge Judy at 3-4 p.m. and 5-6 p.m. The debut of the 5 p.m. newscast in January 2020pushed Judge Judy to its current 2-4 p.m. slot.

"Judge Judy has been on the top of syndication properties for some time," Bush says. "She has been very good for us. She brought us a lot of viewers, and we've taken advantage of Judge Judy to grow our news numbers. We've been very fortunate to have her." 

And when WXIX-TV didn't air her show – due to Gov. Mike DeWine's 2 p.m. coronavirus press conferences last year – viewers complained to the station. "Believe me, they were not happy with us," Bush says.

WXIX-TV will add reporters and producers – but not anchors – for fall, she says. She would not say how many for competitive reasons. Meteorologist Ashley Smith will do 3-5 p.m. newscasts; chief meteorologist Steve Horstmeyer will do 5-7 p.m. and 10-11:30 p.m.

The afternoon and evening anchor lineup will be:

3 p.m.: Amber Jayanth and Chris Riva

4 p.m.: Tricia Macke

5 p.m.: Macke and Riva

5:30 p.m.: Rob Williams and Jayanth

6 p.m.: Williams and Riva

6:30 p.m.: Williams and Jayanth

10-11:30 p.m.: Macke and Williams

According to Bush, WXIX-TV was first in April with adult viewers ages 25-54, the prime advertising target group, for news at 4:30-10 a.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., and 10-10:30 p.m.; and for Judge Judy 2-4 p.m.; Wheel of Fortune at 7 p.m.; and Jeopardy! at 7:30 p.m. Preliminary May 25-54 demos show Fox 19 Now news first 5-11 a.m., 4-6 p.m. and 10-11 p.m., she says.

WXIX-TV also plans these other changes for fall: Replacing the 1:30 p.m. daytime Jeopardy! repeat with a second 25 Words Or Less; and flip-flopping Friends repeats (moving to 11:30 p.m. from 12:30 a.m.) with The Goldbergs reruns.

Judge Judy has been on the air for 25 seasons – the last 12 years as the No. 1 first-run syndicated TV show. Sheinlin's relationship with CBS began to sour in 2015, when she negotiated for ownership of the Judge Judy library starting in 2017 – and then shopped the reruns to other companies. CBS reacquired all her shows by buying out Sheindlin's option for a reported $99 million. The deal stipulated that she would do a 25th year of Judge Judy.

Sheindlin said she felt "disrespected" by CBS when some stations downgraded the time slots for her other court show, Hot Bench, to make room for the new Drew Barrymore daytime talk show.  Nationally, Hot Bench has averaged 2.3 million viewers this season, while Barrymore averaged 719,000, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"You (CBS) disrespected my creation. And you were wrong. Not only in disrespecting my creation, but your gamble in what you put in its place," she told the Wall Street Journal during an an interview at her home in Naples, Fla. "We had a nice marriage. It's going to be a Bill and Melinda Gates divorce."

Before Judge Judy, which was taped in Los Angeles, Sheindlin served as a New York judge for 14 years and worked as a lawyer for 10 years.

"I don’t play golf. I don’t play tennis. I don’t play mahjong," she told the Journal. "Why would I want to look for something I want to do when I already know what I like to do?”

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.