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Late-night news (sometimes referred to as "late local news") refers to late evening television news programs that are broadcast on a nightly or weeknightly basis, often focusing on local news stories and including other feature content.
Late-night local newscasts are traditionally broadcast at 11:00 p.m. local time on owned-and-operated stations and affiliates of the Big Three television networks (CBS, NBC and ABC); the major Spanish language networks (Univision and Telemundo); and in some markets, O&Os and affiliates of Fox, affiliates of The CW and MyNetworkTV, and certain independent stations in the United States; and of CTV, Global and in a few markets, CBC Television, in Canada that are located in the Eastern and Pacific Time Zones. In contrast, stations in the Central, Mountain, Alaska and Hawaii–Aleutian Time Zones air their final local newscasts of the day at 10:00 p.m. local time, with stations in other time zones following their own schedules.
Late local newscasts are typically scheduled in-between a network's prime time and late night programming, allowing for a sizeable lead-in audience for the newscasts. Stations that are affiliated with Fox, The CW, MyNetworkTV, or that are independent stations tend to air their late newscasts at 10:00 p.m. in the Eastern and Pacific zones and 9:00 p.m. in the Central and Mountain zones; in these time zones, the earlier news is often marketed as a "prime time" newscast, as they air in the time period traditionally occupied by the final hour of prime time programming on the longer established "Big Three" networks. In many U.S. markets, although not always the case with every such station, a television station affiliated with one of the post-1986 broadcast networks or operates as an independent station has their late newscast produced by a Big Three station through a news share agreement or by way of a duopoly arrangement.
Prime time newscasts are not as common in other countries, for example in Canada, only Global carries newscasts in that time period on its owned-and-operated stations in the Central and Mountain Time Zones. In countries outside of North America (such as the United Kingdom and Australia), depending on the network, the late evening newscast may either be a national or local program or both.
Late evening local newscasts generally run between 35 minutes (for Big Three affiliates) to 60 minutes (in Canada and on some larger non-Big Three stations in the U.S.) in length; some non-Big Three stations (most commonly, those affiliated with Fox and some larger independent stations) have late newscasts that run as long as 90 minutes, in the form of two separate newscasts (one at 10:00/9:00 p.m. and the other at 11:00/10:00); smaller stations not affiliated with the Big Three may have newscasts fit within a 30-minute timeslot. Prior to the 1960s, the typical late-night newscast lasted a mere 15 minutes; this short-form late local news is still common on local owned-and-operated stations of CBC Television, which airs The National as its hour-long late-night news program across Canada. Late local news is commonplace in Canada in part due to the ease in which it can be produced to meet the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's domestic content quotas.
Many of the stories that are shown on late evening newscasts are follow-ups of ones airing earlier in the day, including scores from the evening's sporting events, reports from governmental meetings, and (when occurring) election results, along with any breaking news stories that occurred earlier in the evening before the start of the program. For those following a half-hour or longer format, the first segment may be set at eleven minutes, a few minutes longer than that of a newscast aired earlier in the day. Half-hour late newscasts often focus more on local stories and special features than on national and international news, which are more commonly covered in more detail on hour-long newscasts, especially those airing in prime time, or when a major news story occurs. Late evening news programs also routinely feature long-form feature segments ranging from investigative reports to stories focusing on socioeconomic issues and even occasional interviews. Being aired after the watershed, late newscasts also have more regulatory freedom to cover stories of a more violent, profane or sexual nature compared to daytime and early-evening newscasts.
The stock phrase "film at 11" comes from the term once used to close promos for the upcoming newscast that air during prime time programming, promising shots from a breaking story during the 11:00 p.m. newscast. However, it has gone out of the television lexicon; technological advances in remote broadcasting have made transporting film back to the station for editing before broadcast a thing of the past (the phrase has since been replaced with similar ones along the lines of "story at 11:00" or "details at 11:00").