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CBS's Ch. 55, plans more local news

Austin Nichols as Julian and Sophia Bush as

Austin Nichols as Julian and Sophia Bush as Brooke in final episode of "One Tree Hill." Photo Credit: The CW

CBS officials will announce Monday that they are adding three hours of news programming -- including a two-hour morning news program and a nightly newscast at 9 -- to WLNY/55's lineup in July.

CBS closed its $55-million purchase of the Melville-based station Friday, ending the 30-year stewardship of Manhasset native Michael Pascucci.

Betty Ellen Berlamino, a veteran New York TV station manager who ran WPIX/11 up until a year ago, was named Ch. 55's general manager. "The first prong in our approach is the news launch in the morning and evening, [but] we haven't made any final decision" about other programs, Berlamino says.

The station airs reruns of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" at 8 and 9 p.m., but "Judge Judy," a hit at 10 p.m., is expected to remain there. The station will not simulcast CBS programs, she said. Ch. 55's longtime 11 p.m. newscast ended last week, replaced by "Entertainment Tonight."

The key development for Ch. 55, however, is news. Compared to other New York stations, Ch. 55's news-gathering capabilities are rudimentary, although that's about to change. The station soon will have a fleet of "live" trucks -- TV news vans that are deployed to cover breaking news -- while the 9 p.m. program, to be anchored by WCBS' Dana Tyler and Chris Wragge, will air a full hour before the news broadcasts of the city's other independent stations -- WNYW/5, WWOR/9 and WPIX/11.

"There will be more Long Island news because of the multiple resources we have on Long Island," said David Friend, news director for WCBS/2 and the CBS station group. But it also will be "thorough, comprehensive and pretty straightforward," with news from the tristate area as well as international news, he added.

Richard Rose, Ch. 55's longtime anchor, will remain with the station as head of its Long Island bureau -- which will include Carolyn Gusoff and Jennifer McLogan, veteran Long Island TV reporters. Rose also will anchor a Sunday public-affairs talk show, Friend said, adding that the 9 p.m. show will originate from Ch. 2 studios in Manhattan, though Rose will report for the show from the Long Island studio. Weathercaster Lonnie Quinn and sportscaster Otis Livingston also will join the program, while anchors for the 7 a.m. show have yet to be named.

A statement from a spokes- woman for News 12 Long Island read, in part: "For the past 25 years, News 12 Long Island has provided Long Islanders with quality news coverage focused exclusively on Nassau and Suffolk counties." She added, "Our viewers know the value we provide, so we welcome competition." News 12 Long Island is owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday.

The purchase is a "huge development for Long Island," said Jaci Clement, executive director of Bethpage-based Fair Media Council. Ch. 55 was "a locally owned broadcast outlet that did not do much local stuff, and for it to be taken over and turned into a duopoly that promises more local news is actually a win."

Pascucci -- who sold his car-leasing company, Oxford Resources, for $650 million in 1997 and later established the Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton -- began his efforts to start a station in 1979. According to the Federal Communications Commission, it launched as WLIG in 1985, and was renamed WLNY in 1996.

Pascucci did not return a call for comment on Friday.

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