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Sinclair Reportedly Clears Last Hurdle Before Closing Deal for Allbritton

sinclair_304The Wall Street Journal reports Sinclair Broadcast Group is moving closer to sealing its deal for Allbritton Communications by settling a lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice and the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General.

The DOJ thought Sinclair’s purchase of ABC affiliate WHTM in a market where it already owns CBS affiliate WHP and CW affiliate WLYH would affect the cost of advertising in the market.

Last month Sinclair agreed to sell the station to Media General when the Allbritton deal is finalized.

“The rivalry between the stations has helped to constrain advertising rates, and without the divestiture, advertisers on stations in this area would likely have paid higher prices,” said Bill Baer, assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.

The settlement comes less than two weeks before a one-year clock will run out for Sinclair to get regulatory approval for its Allbritton deal. If approval isn’t reached in time, Sinclair has said the deal may not close.

The settlement will “pave the way in fact for a DOJ approval,” wrote Evercore analyst Doug Arthur. “Next stop: the FCC,” referring to the Federal Communications Commission. Read more

Seven Months Later, Sinclair’s WNWO Back on Buckeye Cable

sinclair_buckeyeThe seven month long retrans dispute between Block Communications owned Buckeye Cable and Sinclair owned Toledo NBC affiliate WNWO has been resolved.

At times, the tensions in the dispute went public with Buckeye depicting Sinclair as the Grinch in an ad in Block owned newspaper, The Blade. Sinclair countered by calling Buckeye’s tactics “juvenile” and “silly antics.”

Sinclair released a statement that said in part, “In addition to customary terms and conditions, the agreement provides for Buckeye to pay a signing bonus to WNWO-TV, which is in an amount that more than covers the legal fees incurred as a result of a complaint filed by Buckeye at the Federal Communications Commission alleging that Sinclair had failed to negotiate in good faith.”

While The Blade reported, “Both parties also agreed to withdraw the complaints they had filed against each other with the FCC.”

Two Scripps Stations Premiere New Style of News Show

the now kmghE.W. Scripps says it’s “redefining the afternoon news” with a show called The NOW.

The show will debut on Denver ABC affiliate KMGH and Kansas City NBC affiliate KSHB starting today at 4:00 p.m.. The station group said it covers what’s trending on social media and “invites the audience to join the conversation across traditional and digital media platforms” and is not a newscast.

“I believe The NOW will set the pace for the type of programming that audiences on multiple platforms crave,” Brian Lawlor, SVP of Scripps television, said in a statement. “These audiences want to know what’s happening right now, give their own take on those events, and share their thoughts with their own social media networks.”

Denver’s version of The Now will be anchored by Lionel Bienvenu while the KSHB show will feature digital reporter Deb Tuff. Read more

One Station Group Makes Big Move in a Small Market

npg logoNews-Press & Gazette is now the only game in town for TV viewers in the Yuma, AZ-El Centro, CA, market.

NPG has agreed to a sharing agreement with Blackhawk Broadcasting to operate both NBC affiliate KYMA and CBS affiliate KSWT.

NPG owns KECY and KESE the CW, ABC, FOX and Telemundo affiliates in that market (DMA #166).

Mike Meara, EVP and COO at NPG Broadcasting, told TVSpy, “Due to the economic challenges facing Yuma/El Centro, and similar markets our size, this agreement will allow us to share resources in News, Engineering, Operations and Promotions that will result in a stronger operation that will be able serve the Yuma/El Centro area with a more robust news gathering operation and deeper commitment to Community Service.” Read more

Sharyl Attkisson to Work as Investigative Reporter for Sinclair

SharylAttkissonFormer CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson will work for Sinclair Broadcasting as an independent freelance investigative reporter.

Attkisson quit CBS in March. At the time, Politico’s Dylan Byers reported Attkisson “had grown frustrated with what she saw as the network’s liberal bias, an outsize influence by the network’s corporate partners and a lack of dedication to investigative reporting, several sources said.”

In an email obtained by FTVLive, which first reported the story, Scott Livingston head of news for Sinclair wrote, “Sharyl will focus on stories that follow the money and waste watch type of investigations.” Waste Watch is a Sinclair investigative franchise.

Livingston told TVSpy Attkisson would file one to two pieces a month starting next week and that all Sinclair stations would be strongly encouraged to run them. He added, Attkisson “fits with our commitment to tracking the truth and being our advocate for the taxpayer.”

Investors Take Stock in Broadcasters After Aereo Ruling

BroadcastStocks

Following the Supreme Court ruling on Aereo, in which the high court ruled the service violates the broadcasters’ copyrights by taking the signals for free, shares of publicy-traded broadcasting companies shot up. Nexstar which owns more than 70 stations across the country jumped +15% on the news. Sinclair, which owns stations representing more than 38% of the U.S., shot up +14% and CBS Corp. which owns 29 TV stations, as well as the CBS network, was up +5% at one point this morning. Disney, Comcast, 21st Century Fox and Gannett also saw gains.

Paul Clement, who was the attorney for the broadcasters in the case writes, “Today’s decision is a victory for consumers. The Court has sent a clear message that it will uphold the letter and spirit of the law just as Congress intended.”

Gannett Completes Sale of Phoenix Stations to Meredith

meredith logo_304x200Gannett and Sander Media today announced they have completed the sale of Phoenix, AZ, independent station KTVK and CW affiliate KASW to Meredith Corporation.

The total sale price of the sale announced in December including KMOV in St. Louis was $407.5 in cash. The KMOV deal closed in February.

Meredith chairman and CEO Stephen M. Lacy, said in a statement, “These are high performing stations and will add to our already strong cash flow. We will increase our presence in the large and growing Phoenix market, where we also own KPHO-TV, the CBS affiliate.”

According to Meredith both it and SagamoreHill have “voluntarily agreed to divest KASW through a cash sale, swap transaction or combination thereof.”

Meredith announced Wednesday it was buying WGGB in Springfield, MA, from Gormally Broadcasting for $53.8 million.

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

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