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Allbritton Says it Expects Sinclair Deal to be Approved After Recent Changes

sinclair_allbrittonThe recent news that Sinclair plans on surrendering the licenses to three ABC affiliates currently owned by Allbritton to comply with FCC regulations over joint sales agreements may have left some wondering if the deal with Allbritton was in jeopardy.

But Allbritton’s SVP of legal strategic affairs and general counsel Jerry Fritz told TVSpy by email the deal is still on and is expected to close by June or July.

Fritz told us, “All incidents of common ownership and control of stations in the three markets where Allbritton and Sinclair have stations will be eliminated.”

He said Sinclair plans to sell either ABC affiliate WHTM or CBS affiliate WHP in Harrisburg, PA, to an independent third party buyer and said Sinclair’s plan to give up the licenses to WCFT-WJSU in Birmingham and WCIV in Charleston will eliminate any all common control of those stations.

Fritz also tried to reassure the viewers and the employees of WCFT-WJSU and WCIV by saying, “[T]he public will not be deprived of the programming as that will be carried on Sinclair’s existing stations.” And echoed Sinclair’s assertion that it intends to air ABC network shows, syndicated programming and local programming on MyNetworkTV affiliates WABM in Birmingham and WMMP in Charleston. “It will be seamless to the viewers in those markets and the studios and personnel will remain the same,”

He ended by saying, “We fully expect the deal to be approved with these changes.”

Q1 Earnings: Tribune Broadcasting Revenues Up 67%

tribune broadcastingTribune Broadcasting revenues were $398.4 million in the first quarter of 2014, a 67% increase compared to the year-ago quarter.

The station group reported $55.6 million in retransmission revenues for the quarter, up 88% from Q1 2013. Advertising revenues were $304.3 million, up 1.2% year-over-year.

“In the first quarter of 2014 we demonstrated early signs of the strength of our new broadcast scale. As a consolidated business with the Local TV stations, revenues generated by  retransmission consent fees hit an all-time high for the Company,” Tribune CEO Peter Liguori said in a statement. “…We are also encouraged by the activity we are seeing in the political landscape and its prospects for advertising for the second half of 2014.”

Meredith Promotes GM of Portland Station, Names Replacement

meredith logo_304x200Meredith Local Media Group has announced Patrick McCreery has been promoted to the newly created role of Local Media Group VP of News and Marketing.

“I look forward to improving the reach and quality of local news content for our station group,” said McCreery, who was promoted from VP and GM of Meredith’s FOX affiliate KPTV-KPDX in Portland, OR.

McCreery has been with KPTV-KPDX for more than 10 years and in that time has served as station manager, news director and assistant news director. He joined Meredith as special projects executive producer for KPHO in Phoenix in 2003.

Meredith also announced Andy Delaporte has been promoted from director of sales at KPTV-KPDX to VP and GM to replace McCreery. Read more

Gannett to Acquire Six London Broadcasting Stations For $215M

gannett logoGannett Co. will purchase six stations in Texas from London Broadcasting for $215 million. The stations are KCEN in Waco-Temple-Bryan, KYTX in Tyler-Longview, KIII in Corpus Christi, KBMT and digital subchannel KJAC in Beaumont-Port Arthur, KXVA in Abilene-Sweetwater and KIDY in San Angelo.

The acquisition is the latest expansion of Gannett, which nearly doubled its broadcast portfolio with the acquisition of Belo in December. “The addition of these stations will expand Gannett’s reach into some of the fastest growing markets in the nation and furthers our successful transformation into a diversified multi-media company,” Gannett president and CEO Gracia Martore said in a statement.

The transaction is expected to close this summer. After the closing, London Broadcasting Company COO Phil Hurley will continue to lead the stations.

The release is after the jump. Read more

Sinclair Broadcasting Forming PAC

sinclair_304Sinclair Broadcasting is forming a PAC.

According to The Hill, Rebecca Hanson, Sinclair SVP of policy and strategy said the station group will use the political action committee “as it works out issues in front of Congress and the FCC.”

“There are a lot of challenges facing our industry,” said Hanson. “And we believe that engaging in the process through the PAC is one of a variety of ways to further our goals.”

Before being hired by Sinclair in November, Hanson worked as a senior adviser in the FCC’s media bureau.

Hanson told The Hill the foray into politics is in the early stages. “We’re still in the process of forming it internally,” said Hanson.

Q1 Earnings: Sinclair Broadcast Revenues Up 48%

sinclair logoSinclair Broadcast Group reported $373.9 million in net broadcast revenues for the first quarter of 2014, a 47.8% increase compared to the year-ago quarter.

Operating income for the quarter was $81 million, up 27.2% from the prior year period. Political revenues were $6.1 million compared to $0.9 million in the first quarter of 2013. Sinclair reports $8.2 million in revenues generated by the Super Bowl, and $3.7 million in revenues generated by the Sochi Olympics.

“There were many positives in the first quarter that reflect our solid underlying fundamentals, despite the slower than usual start to the year due to the impact of the severe and frigid weather in many of our markets,” Sinclair president and CEO David Smith said in a statement. “The first quarter benefited from incremental Super Bowl, Olympic and retransmission consent fee revenues, while political revenues exceeded expectations. We also benefited from lower television operating expenses across many of our stations. Our main focus now is on closing the Allbritton station acquisition and lobbying to reform broadcast ownership regulatory inequality.”

Larry Wert’s Next Priority For Tribune Stations: Marketing and Sales

When he was first named president of Tribune Broadcasting, Larry Wert said his first priority was WPIX, Tribune’s station in New York City. With a new general manager and news director in place at the CW affiliate, we caught up with Wert at the TVNewser Show about his next priority, putting together “a marketing and sales organizations for all of our stations.” We also asked him for his thoughts on Aereo:

Charlie LeDuff Named National News Correspondent for FOX TV Stations

LeDuff FlagWJBK investigative reporter Charlie LeDuff has been named national news correspondent for FOX Television Stations.

In addition to reporting for the Detroit FOX owned station, LeDuff will lead a series of national news reports on all FOX owned stations called “The Americans with Charlie LeDuff.”

“Charlie’s unorthodox storytelling, no holds barred attitude and exceptional wit combine to produce a news product that is unlike any other reporting out there,” Sharri Berg, SVP of news operations for FOX TV stations said in a statement. Read more

Layoffs at Some Gannett Stations, Including KHOU and WFAA

gannettlogoSome Gannett stations have been hit with layoffs this week, TVSpy has confirmed. The layoffs affect “a small number of positions at some stations,” we hear.

“We’re continually taking advantage of new technology to reallocate resources to our journalism and put more feet on the street,” a Gannett spokesperson tells TVSpy. “Occasionally, these efforts result in staffing adjustments.”

The layoffs were reported yesterday by FTVLive and by Houston media blogger Mike McGuff.

McGuff reports KHOU in Houston and WFAA in Dallas were two of the stations where layoffs occurred. McGuff says “editors, master control operators, truck engineers, Great Day Houston staffers and the art department have all been affected.”

Hearst Television VP of Sales Kathleen Keefe to Retire

kathleen keefeKathleen Keefe, the vice president of sales at Hearst Television, will retire at the end of the year.

“Kathleen has provided great leadership and mentorship not only to our sales efforts, but our company,” said Hearst Television president Jordan Wertlieb said in a statement.  “…Her systems and good judgment in inventory and pricing disciplines and unmatched knowledge of political advertising, have made all of our sales managers better and have helped cultivate the company’s next generation of Hearst Television’s management.”

Before joining Hearst Television in 2001, Keefe was the vice president of sales and marketing for Post-Newsweek Stations. During her 14 years with that station group, she served as general manager of WKMG in Orlando and general sales manager of WFSB in Hartford and KPRC in Houston.

“I couldn’t be prouder or more appreciative of the tremendous sales management and account executive teams at our stations.  I know they will continue to provide industry-leading results,” Keefe said.

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