Action News is a local television newscast format in the United States. It was conceived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at WFIL-TV (now WPVI-TV) by then-news director Mel Kampmann in 1970 as a response to the "Eyewitness News" format used on rival station KYW-TV. At this time, WFIL-TV was said to be "#4 in a three-station market."
The main difference between Action News and Eyewitness News was that the former was far more tightly formatted. Time limits were set on packages—for instance, a reporter package could be no longer than 90 seconds. This difference enabled the station to cover more stories than its competitors. Another key difference was the focus on the surrounding Philadelphia suburban areas—a response to the movement of residents from the city to the suburbs. Finally, WPVI placed more emphasis on young talent—while WCAU-TV and KYW-TV used older, respected news anchors such as Vince Leonard, Tom Snyder, and John Facenda, WPVI used a young Larry Kane as their top anchor. Later, the station would add the very popular Jim O'Brien as its main weathercaster.
The format quickly took off, and after going back and forth with KYW for first place, WPVI took the lead in 1977 and has held it ever since. Capital Cities Communications, WPVI's owner at the time, took the format to most of its other stations.
One of the major development stations for WPVI's Action News was its Capital Cities sister station, WKBW-TV in Buffalo, New York. Under the leadership of news director Irv Weinstein, who had developed his own similar format under the name Eyewitness News (and before that, Pulse Beat News and Rock and Roll Radio News), WKBW developed much of the talent that WPVI would later hire to boost them to #1 in the market; anchor Jim Gardner (replacing Larry Kane when he moved to WABC in New York), weatherman Dave Roberts, and iconic voice-over artist Jeff Kaye are the three highest-profile WPVI personalities to have come from WKBW.
WPIX in New York City, an independent station at the time, picked up the Action News concept (and music) successfully for its 10 p.m. newscast. The newscast won numerous awards, but the station never approached the ratings of longtime leader WNEW-TV (now WNYW).
Sister stations WFTS-TV and KSHB-TV are the first in the country to identify themselves with the Action News branding all day with no station number.
Today, Action News is usually nothing more than a name, since its innovations have been incorporated into newscasts across the country. The name is found on fewer stations than Eyewitness News. Even WPVI, which continues to use the name Action News, has modified its news presentation to one more closely resembling Eyewitness News on KYW-TV.
Outside the United States, the Action News title was used by the following television stations:
- Germany's RTL II (then known as RTL2) in the 1990s
- CKCO-TV in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, in the 1980s and 1990s
- NWS-9 in Adelaide, Australia, in the 1980s
- Netherlands' SBS 6 since its inception in 1995 until 2006
- Colombia's Caracol TV (then as a production company for Inravisión) as Noticias de Acción in the 1980s
- Japan's TV Asahi
Read more about Action News: Theme, Stations That Use or Have Used The Action News Format or Name, Action News in Popular Culture
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