Long Island will lose one of its two hyper-local cable TV news stations when FiOS1 News goes off the air this fall as Verizon FiOS pulls the plug on its answer to Altice’s News12.
Verizon declined to renew its contract with Rye Brook-based RNN, which produced FiOS1 News for Long Island, Hudson Valley, and New Jersey audiences. The move will put 150 journalists across the New York Metro area out of work.
“Barring a change in direction from Verizon, RNN News will cease providing news programming for Verizon’s Fios1 News network at 12:01 a.m. on November 16, 2019,” RNN President Richard French wrote in a letter to employees announcing the news, according to The Journal News, which first reported the story Sunday.
Without FiOS1 News, Verizon FiOS subscribers will be left to watch New York City-focused network television news, which sprinkles the occasional Long Island story in their news casts covering the entire metro area. The change also comes after Altice cut staff levels at News12. It comes a decade after FiOS1 entered the market.
“Losing a local voice like FiOS1 is a serious loss to the region because it’s the news that connects us, creates a sense of community, and directs the public conversation of what we need to know and should care about,” said Jaci Clement, CEO and executive director of the Fair Media Council, a Bethpage-based nonprofit media watchdog group.
“You’re not losing local news because you don’t deserve the coverage,” she continued. “You’re losing it because an industry has lost its way, but now everyone gets to play a role in figuring out how to make news work in their communities. In many ways, local news is now in a startup phase. It’s experimenting, and sometimes failing, but it’s part of the process of becoming something new, better, and stronger.”