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Why Did Spectrum And Fioptics Drop Scripps' Newsy Channel?

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Courtesy E.W. Scripps Co.
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(Updated 9:45 a.m. Friday July 2)

Why did Spectrum cable and Cincinnati Bell Fioptics TV drop the Newsy channel owned by Cincinnati-based E. W. Scripps on Wednesday, June 30?

Why is Cincinnati Bell telling Fioptics TV customers that the Newsy channel from Cincinnati-based E. W. Scripps will be removed effective Wednesday, June 30?

Because Scripps, which owns the 24/7 news service, is pulling Newsy from all pay TV platforms, says Courtney Lewis Burton, Scripps external communications manager.

Scripps plans to launch Newsy as a free over-the-air broadcast network nationwide Oct. 1, as the company targets the increasing number of viewers who have cut the cable TV cord.

Newsy will be available over the air in 92 percent of the country in October, including as a broadcast digital subchannel on WCPO-TV (Channel 9.6). Newsy will replace the Stitcher podcast network, which Scripps sold last year to SiriusXM for $325 million.

Newsy will be carried by Scripps' ION stations "and select Scripps local television stations, and those of other station groups," Scripps has announced. 

"Amid an increasingly polarized and divided national climate, Newsy will seize upon this opportunity to serve more Americans seeking quality objective journalism," said Scripps Networks President Lisa Knutson in April.

Last September Scripps paid $2.65 billion for ION Media – the national broadcast network founded as PAX TV in 1988 – which owned 71 TV stations in 62 markets, and distributed programming to 124 affiliates.

Newsy will join the eight other over-the-air Scripps Networks: Court TV, Court TV Mystery, Bounce, Grit, Laff and two networks launching Thursday, July 1, TrueReal and Defy TV.

"We have created the leading national broadcast network portfolio, and Newsy will be an important part of it, giving full-day, quality, objective national news to the growing OTA (over-the-air) audience," Burton says.

Newsy "targets a highly coveted audience of active news consumers falling into the millennial demographic, making it a natural fit for the over-the-air marketplace," according to Scripps' publicity. Digital antenna ownership increased 40 percent from 2019 to 2020, to more than 50 million U.S. television households, according to a study last October by Horowitz Research, according to Scripps.

Cincinnati Bell's email Monday made it clear that "the decision to remove Newsy was not ours." Cincinnati Bell also said that the company "remains committed to providing a wide array of channels to meet the needs of our customers … We are constantly reviewing our channel lineup in an effort to bring you the best in news, sports, and entertainment. "

Newsy also is available to watch free on most streaming devices and services, including Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Vizio and Samsung.

Newsy, headquartered in Atlanta, will have nearly a dozen bureaus across the country, including in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Denver and Phoenix. It will also use the resources of the Scripps Washington Bureau and Scripps' local TV stations in 41 markets, the company said.