Is Someone Making Overtures to Purchase WREG?

I will be the first to admit that I’m out of the loop on…well just about everything these days.  So imagine my surprise when I get some information asking if I’ve heard anything about WREG either about to be sold or being considered for purchase.  The person who contacted me said there were rumors floating around that the owners of the station where this person worked (within the region) were considering buying WREG.  I’ve checked around and have several people asking but so far no confirmation.  Now, IMHO the sale of WREG is within the realm of possibility now that Oak Hill had a successful bid for the Fox O&Os recently and that would give Oak Hill the Number 1 and Number 3 stations in the market.  I’m not sure how the ruling by the FCC on ownership affects such a duopoly. Perhaps someone could weigh in.  Perhaps the station this ownership group is really interested in is WHBQ which maybe Fox wouldn’t sell individually but Oak Hill could.  Perhaps Oak Hill would like a presence in the market but would be happy with a strong presence as opposed to a Number 1.  I’m reminded of a statement made by a former GM and head of the NYTimes Broadcast Group now living in North Mississippi who once remarked he would rather have a profitable Number 2 station in the market as opposed to a Number 1 station that is spending a ton of money to stay Number 1.  A variety of possibilities exist.  Some might dismiss the rumors altogether.  I say the source is reliable enough that in this case where there is smoke, there is fire.  We’ll see what unfolds in the  new year.

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6 Comments on “Is Someone Making Overtures to Purchase WREG?”

  1. The GM Says:

    Joe,
    If Oak Hill ends up with the FOX group, either WHBQ or WREG has to be sold. The ownership rule changes approved yesterday by the FCC have more to do with cross-media ownership (newspaper/TV) than with multiple stations. Both WHBQ and WREG are profitable stations with large audience share numbers — so they don’t meet the failing station test. Additionally, there must be at least nine (I believe that is the number) independent voices in a market. If WHBQ and WREG are owned and operated by the group, that eliminates an independent voice.

    Interesting times for our industry in general and the Memphis market in particular. Maybe its a former Memphian sniffing around trying to find a way for a big home coming by buying a local station? Not!

    The GM

  2. Joe G. Says:

    Remember when Adams Communications owned WHBQ in the 90s? There were rampant rumors of prominent Memphians trying to buy that station left-and-right before Fox came in. The FCC ruling from yesterday would make it possible for Scripps/the CA to come in and buy a station, though they would have a tough litmus test to go through before they could buy one of the top rated stations in town. The regulations prohibit buying one of the top 4 stations, but there are so many loopholes in the new regs that you could probably get around it.

    Then again, Scripps is breaking up. And with this economy, who’d want to buy a paper or station right now?

  3. The GM Says:

    One point on Sripps buying a station in Memphis, the rule change by the FCC adopted yesterday pertains to top 20 markets.

    The GM

  4. Bar-B-Que Says:

    The plot thickens!
    I wonder if Tribune will buy WHBQ?

    Form the L.A. Times
    Randy Michaels, a veteran radio executive with long-term ties to Sam Zell, will play an important role at Tribune Co. after Zell takes over as chairman, people close to the company said today.

    Michaels’ is the first name to surface as Zell begins assembling his management team. A company source said Michaels would probably focus on Tribune’s broadcast and interactive businesses. The company owns 23 television stations, including Superstation WGN and KTLA-TV Channel 5, and such interactive properties as CareerBuilder, a rapidly growing help-wanted website.

    Michaels, 55, last worked for Zell when he ran Jacor Communications Inc., a radio chain Zell owned and sold in 1998 to Clear Channel Communications Inc. It’s known that Zell and Michaels have kept in touch over the year. Zell told The Times in an interview this year that he would not consider making a media investment without first asking Michaels’ advice.

    Michaels has several personality traits that plainly appeal to his once and possibly future boss: He is outspoken, affects an informal style and thrives in an atmosphere of change.

    At one radio convention reported on by the Wall Street Journal in 2002, Michaels appeared on the podium in a ruffled shirt and fright wig to proclaim that “change is inevitable” in the radio industry.

    By that point, he had helped build Clear Channel into a network of 1,200 stations coast to coast. But he had also alienated record companies by exploiting the company’s market strength to build its concert business, forcing the industry to do business with both units. In 2002, Michaels was removed as chief executive of the radio chain and assigned to head a new interactive division at the family-controlled Clear Channel — a demotion that was variously ascribed to his deteriorating relations with music labels, to his role as a family outsider and to his brash high profile.

    Michaels had joined Clear Channel when it acquired Jacor, a smaller radio chain that Zell had acquired years earlier. At Jacor, Michaels aggressively took advantage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which relaxed constraints on station ownership, by expanding the chain from 26 stations to 230 by 1998, when Clear Channel acquired the company for $4.4 billion.

  5. Troy Says:

    Oop, my mistake, WHBQ is **NOT** on that list.


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