The National Desk
TND logo.svg
Also known as
  • TND
GenreNews program
Current affairs
Presented byJan Jeffcoat
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Production
Production locationsWJLA-TV studios, Rosslyn, Arlington, Virginia
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time180 minutes, morning block
120 minutes, evening block
Production companySinclair Broadcast Group
Release
Original networkSinclair Broadcast Group stations
Picture format1080i (HDTV)
Original releaseJanuary 18, 2021 (2021-01-18) –
present

The National Desk (TND) is a daily American television news program hosted by Jan Jeffcoat and produced by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which premiered nationally on January 18, 2021. The program utilizes the journalistic resources of the news operations throughout the United States that are operated by Sinclair, as well as original content. It originates from the studios of flagship station WJLA-TV in the Washington, D.C. market, which are in the Rosslyn urban village in Arlington, Virginia.

History

In June 2020, Sinclair announced it would launch "a headline news service" that would air weekday mornings (6:00 AM – 9:00 AM local time) and rely on news-gathering services of Sinclair's stations as well as original content, similar in format to NewsNation Prime produced by Nexstar Media Group for NewsNation.[1] Unlike NewsNation Prime, the program was designed to air on Sinclair's local stations, giving the program a much wider availability than the cable-only NewsNation; additionally, the program airs on Sinclair's ad-supported streaming service Stirr, along with the live video section of nearly every Sinclair station site and app, allowing it national availability.

The program was eventually titled The National Desk, and tapped veteran news anchor Jan Jeffcoat to host the program. It launched on January 18, 2021, and airs on Sinclair's CW and MyNetworkTV-affiliated stations along with its Fox-affiliated stations that do not have their own local morning news shows.[2] Although Sinclair does own or operate a handful of "Big Three" affiliated stations that do not produce news or has it outsourced to a sister station (most notably St. Louis ABC affiliate KDNL-TV and Toledo NBC affiliate WNWO-TV), those stations do not air the program due to ABC, NBC, & CBS airing their national morning news shows during that time.

In markets where Sinclair has a virtual triopoly either through a local marketing agreement through one of its partner companies or by way of digital subchannels, the program may air against a sister station's own local newscast. This is the case in Columbus, Ohio where CW station WWHO airs the program up against sister station WSYX's local morning newscast on its Fox-affiliated subchannel, as well as ABC's national airing of Good Morning America on its main signal.

The National Desk largely replaced paid programming, televangelism, and syndicated programming on those stations, reportedly saving Sinclair money in the long-run. The morning block also served as the replacement for Sinclair's attempt at non-educational children's programming, KidsClick, which had ended two years before.[3] Unlike other nationally-produced Sinclair news programs such as Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson and public affairs show The Armstrong Williams Show, the program does not air on Sinclair stations in every market due to network commitments, leaving the program only available on Stirr in those markets.

On May 4, 2021, Sinclair announced an evening expansion of The National Desk on September 27. The two-hour evening block will run after the primetime of The CW, Fox, and MyNetworkTV in the Eastern and Central time zones, while leading into it in the Mountain and Pacific time zones.[4]

On November 15, 2021, ABC affiliate WATM-TV in Altoona, Pennsylvania will begin airing The National Desk in place of where local newscasts would normally air, making it among Sinclair's first "Big Three" affiliated stations to air The National Desk. Prior to this, it was airing a newscast produced from LMA partner WJAC-TV in nearby Johnstown, Pennsylvania.[5] Another LMA sister station, Fox affiliate WWCP-TV in Johnstown, will air The National Desk during WATM-TV's network commitments with ABC.

Format

The program follows a similar format to NewsNation Prime showing news stories from Sinclair stations on a national scale, as well as original content. The program does not air any Sinclair must runs or any commentary from Sinclair's conservative viewpoints, but rather a straight newscast.

Generally airing from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. local time, the program largely repeats the same stories once an hour, making adjustments for breaking news stories. Despite that, the program airs live in every market, while NewsNation repeats its prime time programming via tape delay for West Coast viewers, as most cable networks do in the late evening. A local time and temperature bug and station identification is displayed in the bottom third graphic, as it would on a regular local newscast, along with a sponsor if applicable. At the end of each hour, the program allows stations that produce its own newscast to cut into the program with local news stories; stations that don't air their own newscasts, as well as the last hour that airs on each station, air national weather forecasts in its place, presented regionally by various local Sinclair meteorologists.

Reception

The program gained notice at launch for having five times as many Twitter followers as NewsNation after its first week (compared to NewsNation, which had been on the air for five months). However, the social media accounts under "@Circa" had existed since 2012 for Sinclair's defunct Circa News service. That service was discontinued on March 26, 2019, with Sinclair keeping its existing social media accounts alive and repurposing them under the new "@TND" handle quietly two months later and building The National Desk concept around the dormant accounts, along with retaining most of the Circa-era follower base who had not stopped following the accounts.[6][7]

References

  1. ^ "Sinclair Broadcast Group to Launch Headline News Service, Announces 25 New Positions to be Filled," press release from Sinclair Broadcast Group, 6/17/2020
  2. ^ "Sinclair Broadcast Group's The National Desk To Premiere Monday, January 18," press release from Sinclair Broadcast Group via PRNewswire, 1/15/2021
  3. ^ Jones, Scott. "Sinclair To Launch Headline News Service". FTVLive.
  4. ^ Steinberg, Brian (2021-05-04). "Sinclair Expands 'The National Desk' to Evenings". Variety. Retrieved 2021-10-16.
  5. ^ "Is This the Beginning?".
  6. ^ "Follow up".
  7. ^ "Sinclair Quietly Rebrands Circa".