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Bill Binnie’s WBIN stops news broadcasts

Bill Binnie is a Republican running for the U.S. Senate, August 26, 2010.

(Alexander Cohn/Monitor Staff)

Bill Binnie is a Republican running for the U.S. Senate, August 26, 2010. (Alexander Cohn/Monitor Staff)

Bill Binnie’s television station has stopped its 10 p.m. news program.

The weeknight news program on WBIN was broadcast Friday, but did not return Monday night. The station’s spring program lineup went into effect this week and does not include a news program.

Binnie has been building a media company since 2011, when he purchased Derry-based WBIN-TV. The Seacoast businessman and former U.S. Senate candidate now owns 17 radio stations and is planning to convert the former Walker School in Concord into television and radio studios.

A WBIN official declined to comment yesterday on the end of the 10 p.m. newscast.

“There are strategic decisions regarding programming that we don’t discuss,” said Periklis Karoutas, the company’s vice president of political affairs and public relations.

Only one of WBIN’s three reporters is still employed at the station, Karoutas said.

WBIN’s 10 p.m. news segment began in September 2011. The 30-minute program was hosted from Davenport, Iowa, where an anchor and meteorologist combined WBIN’s own reports with national and international news. Anchor Amanda Decker and meteorologist Dan Bronis delivered the news live from their studio in Davenport.

For the past several months, WBIN had three reporters in New Hampshire. They filmed and edited their own news segments, which were introduced by the anchors in Iowa.

In February, Binnie told the Monitor he would soon double his reporting force and expand his newscasts to more than 30 minutes per day. He said he plans to have a larger reporting staff than any other news organization in the state.

In interviews and at public meetings about the Walker School site, Binnie has spoken about his commitment to local news. He has described his five-year vision for a morning news show hosted locally and broadcast on his television and radio stations.

Though the television station is now without its own news program, Karoutas said news is still important to WBIN.

“I can’t answer when it’s going to return,” he said. “Our company is doing news and will continue to do so.”

Karoutas noted that the company’s radio stations still provide news and The Daily Buzz, a nationally syndicated weekday morning show that includes brief local news updates. Meteorologist Al Kaprielian will continue to provide weather forecasts.

At 10 p.m. on weekdays, WBIN is now airing a celebrity gossip show called OMG! Insider instead of a news broadcast.

Binnie is still moving forward with plans to renovate the Walker School building Church Street. He signed a purchase and sales agreement with the Concord School District in December to buy the former elementary school for $900,000.

Binnie told city officials in January that the Walker School building will become “the No. 1, pre-eminent media center in the state.”

He said the building’s auditorium will host political debates, and politicians will travel there to announce their candidacies for president.

The Concord Heritage Commission will hold a public hearing tomorrow on Binnie’s plans to renovate the building, which is in the city’s historic district. The commission must approve site plans before they go to the planning board.

Proposed renovations include replacing the windows, building modern canopies over the entrances and installing satellite dishes on the roof and ground. Binnie plans to move the memorial benches on the property to the southwest corner of the site, according to his application to the Heritage Commission. The public meeting will begin at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow in the city council’s chambers on Green Street.

In response to questions about its news broadcast, WBIN released a statement last week about its plans for the “multi-million dollar” Walker School project.

“This facility will become home to several of our radio stations and headquarters of our statewide and digital news network,” the statement read.

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or
lmccrystal@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)

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