ONE — to borrow a Broadway lyric — was never a singular sensation in Las Vegas.
Meeting a fate expected since October, cable channel Las Vegas ONE ceases operation today after failing to truly connect with Las Vegas viewers during a nearly 12-year run.
“New technology has significantly changed how consumers access local news and information,” said Linda Bonnici, the station’s general manager, in a statement. “Those changes, in addition to the continued economic challenges, have driven all media outlets to re-evaluate how to best serve Southern Nevada.”
The shutdown dissolves the partnership between Las Vegas ONE’s co-owners, the Greenspun Corp., KLAS-TV, Channel 8 and Cox Cable, and leaves its carrier channel, Cox Cable 19, vacant for now.
“I think Las Vegas ONE has served the community well over the last 11 years or so, but the community has not taken to Las Vegas ONE the way the three of us had hoped they would when we started it,” Greenspun chairman Brian Greenspun acknowledged to the Las Vegas Review-Journal last month.
Las Vegas ONE debuted in April 1998 and saw its signature programming dismantled over the past few months. The Emmy-winning weeknight newscast “NewsONE at 9” was canceled in October, followed in December by the public affairs programs “Face to Face with Jon Ralston” and “In Business Las Vegas,” the latter two jumping to KVBC-TV, Channel 3. “Face to Face” debuted last week and “In Business begins Jan. 15.
That left Las Vegas ONE with no original local programming, reliant only on simulcasts and rebroadcasts of Channel 8’s news for local content. Those broadcasts, as well as news from CBS, Channel 8’s network affiliate, now air on Cox Cable 128. That had been Channel 8’s digital subcarrier that had simulcast Channel 8 programming including entertainment shows. It has been redesigned as an all-news channel called 8 News NOW, the same slogan Channel 8 rebranded itself with recently after dropping the “Eyewitness News” label. Channel 128 also will include live coverage of events such as local news conferences, ongoing trials and other news that Channel 8 would not pre-empt regular programming to carry live, as also happened on Las Vegas ONE.
In a separate move, Channel 8 announced the hiring of Steve Sebelius, editor of CityLife, a local alternative weekly newspaper. (CityLife is owned by Stephens Media, which also owns the Review-Journal.)
Sebelius, a former R-J columnist who will remain CityLife editor, will join the station’s investigative “I-Team,” including George Knapp (also a CityLife columnist), Colleen McCarty and Jonathan Humbert. His hiring comes right after the departure of Ralston, who also provided political analysis on Channel 8 in addition to hosting “Face to Face.”
“Steve brings a little broader range than Jon does,” said Channel 8 president and general manager Emily Neilson. “We loved working with Jon and were honored to be associated with him; he is a unique talent. Steve has deep political sources, but he also has a lot of sources in other areas, and this gives him a broader canvas.”
Sebelius, noted for his liberal commentary in CityLife and on his blog, says his TV analysis will be more contextual than ideological. “I’m not going to deny I have an ideological point of view, it would be foolish and intellectually dishonest,” he said. “But when you are a professional journalist, you have the obligation to be fair. My role is not to argue with these newsmakers, but report what they do and put it into context for people.
“Let me put it this way,” Sebelius added: “I will not be the Keith Olbermann of Nevada.”