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Panama City

Nexstar and Mission Broadcasting Buying Six Stations in Two Markets

nexstar_304Nexstar Broadcasting and Mission Broadcasting have announced a definitive agreement to acquire six television stations for $37.5 million.

In the deal, Nexstar will pay $33.5 million to buy WMBB (ABC) in Panama City, FL, and KREX (CBS), KREG (CBS), KREY (CBS) and KGJT (MyNetworkTV) in Grand Junction, CO, from Gray Television. Mission will pay $4 million for KFQX in Grand Junction, CO, from Excalibur Broadcasting. KREG and KREY are satellite stations of KREX.

Perry A. Sook, chairman, president and CEO of Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Inc., said in a statement. “The agreements to acquire stations in Grand Junction and Panama City mark our entrée into these markets and upon completing all announced transactions, we will own or provide services to multiple stations in 37 of the 56 markets where we will operate.”

Gray and Excalibur previously agreed to buy WMBB, KREX, KREG, KREY, and KFQX as part of a 20 station deal with Hoak Media and Parker Broadcasting and then sell them off because of FCC ownership restrictions.

The addition of the stations will bring Nexstar’s station total to 108 in 56 markets reaching approximately 16 percent of all US TV households.

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Panama City Gets Its Own CBS Affiliate Today

Television viewers in Panama City, FL can now get their favorite CBS shows with a local feel.  WECP, the market’s first CBS affiliate since the 1960s, takes to the airwaves today.

While the station’s Facebook page has been keeping residents updated on the process of the launch, the station is only currently available the old fashioned way, the Panama City News Herald reports,

The new station, WECP, will be available over the air — that is, using rabbit ears — on channel 18 at mid-morning. Viewers will need to rescan their TVs to pick up the signal, said Curt Molander, general manager for WJHG, the sister station of WECP and WTVY in Dothan, Ala., which has served as the Panama City market’s CBS affiliate since the early 1960s.

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WPGX in Panama City Cuts Eight Staffers

Eight people were laid off last month in a round of cuts at Raycom Media’s WPGX, the Fox-affiliate in Panama City, FL.

“There have been changes,” Raycom vice president Jeff Rosser told the Panama City News Herald. “Our industry got reset in 2008 and we are adjusting.”

The layoffs include six full-time and two part-time employees. The hub for the station is now located in Birmingham, according to the News Herald. Rosser said the station remains open and will continue to have local programming.

Gavin Maliska Tapped as WJHG News Director

Gavin Maliska is returning to Florida as news director of WJHG, an NBC-affiliate in Panama City.

Maliska led the newsroom at Orlando Fox O&O WOFL for a year before being let go in 2009. Most recently, he served as ND for KECI, an NBC-affiliate in Missoula, MT.

WJHG has been searching for a news director since March, when the station abruptly fired Mark Wildman after just three months. Wildman was reportedly prone to angry outbursts.

Before joining WOFL, Maliska worked as news director at Indianapolis’s WXIN.

After Just Three Months, Mark Wildman is Out as WJHG’s News Director

Mark Wildman is out as news director for Panama City’s WJHG.

Sources confirm that Wildman, who joined the NBC-affiliate in December, has been let go. Florida News Center has more details on the ouster:

Wildman had several angry out bursts towards staff, during last weeks Friday morning newscasts. Wildman was relieved of his duties, yesterday during the 5pm newscast. No other reason was given for his sudden departure from the station.

Wildman joined the station on December 6th. He had previously worked as news director for WMGT in Macon, GA.

WMBB Anchor Kevin Character Arrested After Refusing to Pay Bar Tab [Update: Charges Dropped]

WMBB weekend anchor Kevin Character was arrested early Tuesday morning after an embarrassing scene at a bar in Miramar Beach, FL.

Character was out drinking with friends when the group got into a dispute with Rum Runners staff over their $171.48 bar tab.  According to The Walton Sun, Character and his friends refused to pay the bill saying that some of the drinks were not theirs.  After some back-and-forth, they attempted to pay the bill only to have their credit cards declined.

At that point, Character began to make a scene and police arrived.  He reportedly cursed at the officers, telling them, “I’m going to have your jobs… this is going to be on the news tomorrow.”

He was charged with disorderly intoxication in a public place, resisting an officer without violence, and felony obstructing justice. No word yet if WMBB, an ABC-affiliate in Panama City, will take disciplinary action.

>Update: All charges were eventually dropped.  Following the arrest, Character was put on a probationary period at WMBB.  He later personally decided to leave the station.