Community Leaders Urge Verizon to Save Hyper-Local News Outlet

Representatives from several local organizations held a press conference at Calvary Baptist Church in White Plains on Sept. 12 to urge Verizon to not drop FiOS1 local news channel from its cable television service in November. Neal Rentz Photo

Local clergy and representatives of several organizations held a press conference at Calvary Baptist Church in White Plains on Sept. 12 to urge Verizon to not drop the FiOS1 local news channel from its cable television service as scheduled.

In November the FiOS1 local cable news channel will end its 10-year contract with RNN in Rye Brook, which produces the news on the channel. The move will cost 150 employees their jobs. News12 will be on a second cable channel beginning on Nov. 16 to replace the FiOS1 channel.

On Thursday, the Ministers Fellowship Council held a press conference to express its concerns about losing the local news channel, which speakers said would mean a loss of local news coverage. The Rev. Lee Trollinger, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church and the president of the Council, said the loss of the FiOS channel would “be a detriment to our communities.” Without the channel Trollinger said he would not be able to be informed about local news. “We need to have the outlet from Verizon.”

Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., who represented the Urban League of Westchester, said, “Hyper local news is as vital as ever in this community.” Information and knowledge would be lost if the channel is taken off the air. We have these big news media outlets that may come in from time to time and they may cover a story or two but you get about maybe 60 seconds and then it’s over,” Chamberlain said. “Without the hyper local news it will just disappear.”

Chamberlain said the FiOS news coverage was credible and reputable and the information is fact checked. “They present the facts in an unbiased way,” he said.

Allison Lake, the executive director of the Westchester Children’s Association, said, “We depend on diverse media to get our issues and concerns in front of the voting public, our elected officials and our decision makers.”

Westchester is seeing demographic changes “that warrant really different media outlets so that all voices are heard,” Lake said.

Westchester People’s Action Coalition Executive Director Nada Khade said, “We definitely need strong independent media that is covering these serious issues in an intelligent, substantial manner.”

Lena Anderson, president of the White Plains/Greenburgh NAACP, said the local chapters of the organization need the news channel. “We are very much concerned that you would even think about pulling away because we need more than one source.”

Messages left last week with the Verizon public relations department were not returned.

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