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WJWJ-TV plans to end the state's only local nightly news program on public television, folding content into three weekly programs, officials announced Friday.'
The format changes come as the station receives a more than $1 million digital facelift, updating equipment to meet new Federal Communication Commission standards.'
The new upgrades led the station management and South Carolina Education Television officials in Columbia to re-evaluate the station's local lineup to include more content from the four-county region of Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton and Colleton.'
"We're stretching our hands from almost touching Charleston to almost touching Savannah," said Tom Fowler, vice president of programing for ETV.'
But changing the format meant sacrificing the nightly news program, he said.'
"It's very resource intensive," Fowler said. "If you commit to doing that, it limits what else you can do."'
All of the local shows will move to 7:30 p.m. to complement statewide programing at 7 p.m. and national programming at 8 p.m.'
The new shows includes a reformatted "Coastline." The Thursday night local call-in show is expected to also include more "Nightline"-style news packages.'
"Lowcountry in Focus" on Wednesdays will feature many of the community events and stories that are typical of the nightly news program.'
And the new "Coastal Week in Review" on Fridays is expected to be a panel-style news show with local newspaper editors providing commentary on recent events.'
The station's $600,000 budget and 10-member full-time staff should stay the same under the program changes, said John Brunelli, WJWJ's regional studio manager.'
Lily Joplin, executive director of the Arts Council of Beaufort County, said she would continue to support the local station, but that the nightly news was important.'
"God bless them, they'd come out and cover something, and people would see it and tell me that's where they heard about it," she said.