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U-T San Diego Pulling Plug On UT-TV After Less Than 2 Years

Photo caption:

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

The U-T San Diego building.

U-T San Diego announced Wednesday it is pulling its "U-T TV" operation off cable television systems and will instead focus its multimedia efforts on digital platforms like computers, tablets and smartphones.

The last television broadcast will be Wednesday evening, according to the newspaper. The television operation lasted less than two years.

"Our business model has always been this -- we will try new ideas and continue to evolve as a company to provide the best content and information possible for our audience and our advertisers," said U-T San Diego Chairman and Publisher "Papa" Doug Manchester, who bought the company in 2011.

U-T TV aired on channel 114 on Cox Cable and channels 17 and 1017 on AT&T U-Verse. According to the newspaper, it was unable to reach a carriage deal with Time Warner Cable, and the Cox channel was available only to digital subscribers.

Dean Nelson, who heads the journalism program at Point Loma Nazarene University, said he wasn't surprised Manchester pulled the plug, but he thought the experiment in TV news might last a bit longer.

"I admire the effort they put into it," Nelson told KPBS. "They are a news organization that realizes a traditional newspaper is not sustainable model in the long run. So they said, 'Let's try TV; let's do something different and see if it will work.' They gave it the old college try.

"And I don't know of another newspaper that has tried to do a TV operation as ambitious as this one. They tried to take their significant amount of good print content and make it into something universally appealing on a different medium. But to try and make a newspaper into a TV newscast just didn't work. They are two different things."

A "few dozen" of U-T TV's 45 or so employees will remain with the operation to produce online videos, the newspaper reported. Video news updates will be uploaded hourly, along with sports, entertainment, business and political reports.

KPBS senior news editor Mark Sauer contributed to this report.

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