For the time being at least, Channel 4 has moved its sports report out of the lineup on the 6 p.m. newscast.
Sports director and anchor Steve Burton’s report, which typically runs around three minutes, has been moved from its familiar 6:20 p.m. spot on the news to approximately 5:45 p.m. during Channel 4′s weeknight news block (5-6:30 p.m.).
The decision was made by news director Gerardo Lopez. Channel 4 sports staffers were told the change was experimental when they were informed recently. It was implemented in last Monday’s newscast.
The decision is not totally shocking — the 6 p.m. news is basically weather, news, human interest stories, and more weather nowadays — but it is a significant break from tradition, particularly for an older demographic of viewers whose loyalty to Channel 4 sports dates to the heyday of Bob Lobel, if not further back.
It also could be interpreted as a misguided marginalization of sports at a time when the Bruins and Celtics have championship aspirations. The 6-6:30 p.m. block, which leads into the CBS Evening News, remains the primary half-hour of interest to viewers.
Lopez chose not to comment on the record when contacted Wednesday.
According to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, the change is considered a test for now. Part of the rationale is an attempt to be unpredictable, while also opening up the later part of the newscast to other types of content, such as human interest stories. Channel 4 also intends to emphasize more sports at the community level rather than focusing almost exclusively on professional sports.
The sports segment during the 11 p.m. news will remain in its usual spot, and Burton and reporters Dan Roche and Mike Uva will be seen on the 6 p.m. news — sometimes in the “A block,” or the top of the show — when major sports news is happening.
But if you’re looking for the sports report on the 6 p.m. news, you’ve got an adjustment to make.
In advance of NESN’s airing last Monday night of the Q&A with Red Sox ownership and management at Winter Weekend in Springfield, I asked a network spokesperson whether the program would include the raucous boos aimed at owner John Henry and general manager Chaim Bloom.
This was the response: “[As] is always the case with television production, we made tweaks where needed to accommodate sound quality in the unique amphitheater environment at MGM and condensing a 90-min period to the hourlong format of the show. With that said, the lion share of the ownership/front office Q&A is included in the show.”
Shockingly — shockingly, I tell you! — the “tweaks” and “condensing” led to virtually all of the booing at Henry being absent from the broadcast. If that’s a coincidence, it’s the greatest one in American history since John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died hours apart on the Fourth of July, 1826.
Rich Shertenlieb of the “Toucher and Rich” program on 98.5 The Sports Hub expertly provided on Tuesday’s program a compare-and-contrast between the contentious audio of the event shared on social media and the NESN version. It’s worth checking out on their podcast feed.
Not buying it
Tom Brady made some headlines last Monday when he responded to a question from co-host Jim Gray on his SiriusXM radio program about a timetable on deciding about his football future with a recurring expletive. “Jim, if I knew what I was gonna [expletive] do, I’d already [have] [expletive] done it,” said Brady. “I’m taking it a day at a time.” If you listened to this and thought Brady was genuinely mad at the question, I have some FTX stock to sell you. It reminded me of a milder, radio version of the Jim Rome/Jim Everett “fight” years ago . . . Billy Packer, who died this past week at age 82, was synonymous with the men’s Final Four, having served as an analyst for 34 years, from 1975 until his retirement in 2008. March Madness wasn’t officially under way until his voice was heard . . . The Sports Hub can afford to wait while it figures out who will replace Adam Jones in the evenings. Bruins and Celtics games fill much of its current evening programming, and the plan is to use a rotating cast of part-timers for the time being. Meanwhile, Jones will make his debut on WEEI’s new afternoon-drive program with Meghan Ottolini and Christian Arcand on Monday.
Chad Finn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeChadFinn.