ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 will cease production of the primetime local newscast it has been producing for Weigel Broadcasting WCIU-Channel 26, the two stations jointly confirmed.
"ABC 7 Eyewitness News on The U" will have its final broadcast August 30.
The one-hour newscast, which has been airing at 7 p.m. Monday through Friday since 2015, originates from ABC 7 studios at 190 North State Street. It's fronted by news anchors Cheryl Burton and Hosea Sanders, meteorologist Larry Mowry and sports anchor Jim Rose.
Calling the decision "an amicable parting," Steve Farber, senior vice president of operations for Weigel Broadcasting, said it was prompted by WCIU's new affiliation agreement with The CW Network.
The U will switch to CW 26, effective September 2, with most of its nightly programming shifting to WCUU-Channel 26.2, a separate subchannel it currently brands as “The U Too.”
"With that change, we thought that was the right time to end this part of our partnership," Farber said. His station's new lineup — including what will air in place of the news at 7 p.m. — has not been finalized.
"We’ve always enjoyed working with ABC 7, and they’ve done a great job producing a very competitive newscast for us. But in moving to the CW, our priorities have changed. While we’re sad to see the newscast go, looking at this from all sides, we thought that was the best way to start things off this fall.
"Our move to CW is all about having a very competitive primetime lineup available, and that’s what took priority here," Farber said.
Although ratings for the outsourced newscast never rose above lackluster at best, it apparently generated sufficient revenue to survive more than four years. Station officials declined to speculate on whether it would have continued after this year.
"I think it was an effective strategy for both of us," John Idler, president and general manager of ABC 7, said of the news share agreement. "I think it succeeded, and I'm certainly proud of what we did and what we accomplished together."
Although no new deals are in the works, Idler said he hopes to find additional ways for the two stations to cooperate.
"This relationship has been nothing but healthy the entire time, and the stations continue to have a terrific relationship," he said. "Neither of us are opposed to cooperating in the future. The partnership was an effective one for both of us, and if there are opportunities to work together in the future, we’ll certainly consider them."