Okay, Another Station in Memphis Goes on the Block!

The other shoe has finally dropped.  We’ve been hearing rumors that some of the Fox O & Os would be sold and according to what I read on Shoptalk’s Watercooler  it’s happened.

Here is the release I found.

June 13, 2007 5:45 PM EST

News Corporation Announces Plan to Sell Nine Television Stations
NEW YORK, NY, June 13, 2007 – News Corporation announced today that it plans to sell nine of its FOX network affiliated television stations. News Corporation has retained Allen & Company to advise it on potential transactions.

The stations include:

– WJW in Cleveland, OH
– KDVR in Denver, CO
– KTVI in St. Louis, MO
– WDAF in Kansas City, KS
– WITI in Milwaukee, WI
– KSTU in Salt Lake City, UT
– WBRC in Birmingham, AL
– WHBQ in Memphis, TN
– WGHP in Greensboro, NC

News Corporation has 35 owned-and-operated stations in the United States, making the Fox Television Stations (FTS) group among the largest in the nation. Following the planned sale of the nine stations, FTS will remain one of the nation’s strongest and most successful station groups, with nine duopolies in major markets as well as single stations in eight mid- to large-sized markets. A full list of News Corporation’s U.S. stations is available at http://www.newscorp.com/operations/tvstations.html

Now the folks at Fox 13 get to go through what those at WREG and WPTY/WLMT dealt with this past year.  No word on any potential buyers so far.  So, I guess Raycom plans to keep its stable of stations since it bought and sold a few stations in the past couple of years.

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6 Comments on “Okay, Another Station in Memphis Goes on the Block!”

  1. Doug J. Says:

    It’s interesting. Six of those stations were part of the big Fox affiliate switch of 1994, shortly after Fox successful bid to broadcast NFL football (Denver, Salt Lake City & Memphis were not part of the deal). Before then, most of the Fox “network” was made up of UHF stations. These acquisitions helped position Fox as a competitor. I remember how much I ended up working on Sundays at the station DOTR after CBS lost football.

    I guess Fox’s position in major markets is enough to weather losing these stations. And the money from the sale will be a good salve for the loss.

  2. The GM Says:

    The new owners will be . . . private equity.
    The GM

  3. joelarkins Says:

    No question about that, although there has been some speculation that since some of these stations were previously ABC, CBS and NBC stations and that some were VHF powerhouse stations, that once a sale is made, there might be some effort to have them revert to their previous affiliations. Granted there are a lot of hoops to jump through to make something like that happen. My question is this: With the arrival of High Definition which as I understand, the signal goes out like a UHF signal and has to have multiple repeaters or boosters to spread the signal, would having a station which is now Fox return to a previous affiliation be more trouble than it’s worth? Anybody have a best guess here?

  4. Doug J. Says:

    My guess would be that any new owner would have to have some kind of leverage to “encourage” an affiliation swap. It’s always a risky thing with audience loyalty. And “loyalty” may not be the right word. But long-time viewers can get awfully confused when their shows aren’t where they’re supposed to be.

    I was in Atlanta at channel 46, which became the CBS affiliate after Fox bought channel 5. It was tough to break through with news on that station because CBS viewers did not make the move with their old programming. They kept watching their favorite news people on WAGA, which did not go through as much “Foxification” as other Fox owned and operated stations did.

    As far as the move to digital, everybody’s gotta do it by 2009 anyway. And all of the affiliates will broadcast more and more programming in hi-def, which is going to look as good whatever channel it’s on. I would imagine that with cable and satellite penetration, and the dying off of older viewers (and their channel loyalties), it might not make that much difference where you end up on the channel — as long as it’s not on one of those upper tiers with a channel number in the hundreds on the cable or sat box.

  5. The GM Says:

    In Memphis, the FOX affiliation is worth far more than the ABC affiliation. Just look at the ratings. ABC — due to its programming — at times has been referred to as the Aryian Broadcasting Company. Not a lot of folks of color on the ABC network. FOX has long targeted an ethnic audience and FOX13’s non-network follows that pattern. Look at the Ch30 since UPN became CW. UPN was much more diverse. I bet Ch30 is not doing as well as a CW.

    The only way affiliations are changing is if the contract is up; a network like ABC, CBS or NBC buys FOX13 and makes it their Memphis O&O or whomever is buying has enough cash and clout to affect an early change. Me, I’d keep it FOX and find ways to operate it more efficiently. I bet you its a pretty good money maker already in that market.

    Regarding HD; doesn’t matter. All stations have to decide if they develop their HD on UHF or VHF. My station is currently a VHF analog but our HD signal is UHF. Before the transition we will build a new VHF digital to keep our well branded channel position.

    The GM

  6. the tall tv guy Says:

    Fox made a lot of overdue improvements when they bought Ch. 13 years ago. Guess they’re now get their return on investment.

    These former owners, NYT, Clear Channel, etc., weren’t happy with their 4 or 5% profit margin, couldn’t cut costs anymore, so they decided to sell and put their cash somewhere else.

    It will be interesting to see how these stations will change operations and market themselves in the next couple of years.

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