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NECN Pulls the Plug on 'TV Diner'

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Photo: Jenny Johnson and Billy Costa at TV Diner's Platinum Plate Gala/Facebook

11-year-old weekly restaurant show TV Diner is being discontinued by NECN, which is apparently trying to shift "in the direction of news and weather, with less lifestyle programming," according to Boston.com's Names blog. Co-host Billy Costa had been with the program since the beginning, while Jenny Johnson came on board eight years ago. Costa has also worked at Kiss108 FM for years and released a brief statement on Kiss' website:

"It's been a great 10 year run for Jenny and I at NECN, and we want to thank NECN for their support throughout the years.... but most importantly THANK YOU TO ALL OUR FANS for your kind words and well wishes. Feel free to send any feedback to NECN!" And an even briefer statement on Twitter: "Thanks so much for the kind words for me and jenny and tv diner...here s to the next chapter."

Support — and speculation about whether the show will be picked up elsewhere — has been pouring in from industry folks and viewers via social media since the news broke last night. Over its decade-plus run, TV Diner brought positive attention to countless restaurants, large and small, and there's no other local show that accomplishes quite the same thing. According to a Facebook post from the show, new episodes might air until the end of October with reruns continuing until the new year. No news at this time about the fate of the TV Diner Platinum Plate Gala, already planned for January (and with tickets already on sale).

A half dozen other NECN employees have reportedly also lost their jobs in recent weeks as the NBC-owned station focuses on its "ability to deliver more live news Monday through Sunday than any station in the New England market."

UPDATE: Some statements:

Bob Luz, President of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association:

"TV Diner has done so much to bring exposure and opportunity to local restaurants of all kinds and we're so grateful for Billy's and Jenny's excellent work. I know I speak for many in this business when I say that I'm looking forward to seeing where the show and the talented hosts land next."
Thomas Menino, Mayor of Boston:
"TV Diner and its fabulous team have been a Boston staple for many years, bringing attention and prosperity to our amazing local restaurants. The City is lucky to have Billy and Jenny, and I want to thank them for their hard work. I have no doubt that they have much more in store for us, wherever they land."
Patrick Moscaritolo, President & CEO of Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau:
"Thanks to Billy and Jenny's remarkable energy and passion for our chefs and their restaurants their TV Diner show helped us brand Boston and Cambridge as a top culinary destination for visitors and locals. Their relentless coverage and promotion of new chefs and new restaurant openings and our twice a year Restaurant Weeks promotions made the Boston & Cambridge dining scene a "must do" for visitors to our city."
· All coverage of TV Diner on Eater

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