Local TV LLC Kicking Young Broadcasting’s Tires and A Possible Scenario Where WREG Produces News for Someone Else in Memphis

For the second time this week someone has shared with me that Local TV LLC is interested in properties owned by Young Broadcasting.  The two accounts differ so, I figured I would post on what has been shared.

I’m told that Local TV LLC has paid a visit to some of the properties, looking them over, taking photographs, showing interest in the VJ model in the newsrooms.  For those not quite up to speed, it was Local TV LLC that bought the NYTimes Broadcasting Division and later acquired some Fox O & Os from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.  Slowly but surely the operation owned by Oak Hill is growing.  Enter Young Broadcasting which owns 13 stations and which earlier this year declared/filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  Young’s stock value was in the penny stock range the last time I checked.  Here is where the two versions I’m hearing diverge.  On one hand I’m told that Local TV LLC was interested in acquiring KRON, the once power house station in San Francisco and the other version shared with me was that Local TV LLC was interested in every station in the group BUT KRON.  Acquiring the Young properties would give Local TV LLC properties across the Volunteer State : ( WREG-Memphis already in the fold), WKRN-Nashville and WATE-Knoxville.  There would be an issue with a station already owned in the Quad Cities area but I think that is the only conflict.  Anway, don’t be surprised if the announcement comes about especially if  Local TV can get these operations for a song.  Eventually the economy will turn around and I’m sure the investors will be happy.

Meanwhile, I heard something else about station acquisition and I guess I find this one a little harder to believe.  I’ve heard that The Tribune Company was kinda, sorta, possibly interested in buying some stations including WPTY/WLMT in Memphis.  The reason I find this particular item a little harder to swallow is that The Tribune Company filed Chapter 11 just before the end of 2008.  Now, I don’t know how the world of finances works but I would imagine that if the parent company has filed Chapter 11, then most of the rest of the company is not going to go out and spend money that the company may or may not have.  Still, stranger things have happened and this could be one of them.  So, evoking the spirit of Rod Serling  “Imagine if you will, that WPTY/WLMT is sold to TTC.  Remember that the company(Tribune)  joined into an agreement back in December 2007 with Local TV LLC to form a ‘broadcast management company’ to provide management services for both Tribune and Local TV stations.   According to Wikipedia: In addition to the management agreement, Tribune Interactive provides the platform for the websites of all the LocalTV stations and transitioned them from other website hosts such as Fox Interactive and World Now. So, we have two groups playing footsies with each other already.  Despite what I would consider valiant efforts on the part of those at WPTY/WLMT, the numbers for their local news aren’t really strong.  What better way to save a bunch of bucks than by pulling the plug on the news operation there and letting WREG produce the local newscast for WPTY/WLMT.  The rest of the national and syndicated stuff would stay the same at WPTY/WLMT.  Crazy, yah maybe.  I’m sure there are all kinds of legal and technical issues why this might not work, but I just wanted to put that out there.  And now, back to our current timeline.

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13 Comments on “Local TV LLC Kicking Young Broadcasting’s Tires and A Possible Scenario Where WREG Produces News for Someone Else in Memphis”

  1. The GM Says:

    Here is the deal. WLMT is the #4 billing station in Memphis and WPTY is #5. They do not pull enough market revenue, indvidually or combined, to justify the cost of a news operation. The new GM comes in with the charge to improve things. Where to start? Can she improve ratings enough in this down economy to make news profitable? Not likely. Can she cut news costs and do a news production deal with FOX13? FOX produces a 9p and can do a 10p for WPTY. They can simulcast the morning show (its already called Good Morning Memphis). Nothing to base this on except past experience and reading the tea leaves of the changing media landscape.

    The GM

    • someguy Says:

      I understand that you can save money by not having to staff a newsroom, but how is running someone else’s newscast going to increase your billing?

      Are more people going to watch Channel 2 News on Channel 6 than watched Channel 6 news?

      I’d like to take this opportunity to just blame the Sales Department. It’s always their fault anyways.

  2. joelarkins Says:

    So, if a station decides to cut its news department, do they put their news coverage out for bids? On the other hand, does it not stand to reason that you would want the most popular news teams to front for your station to help draw in viewers. Yet, does the most popular news operation not run the risk of too much exposure and in fact hurt their own primary station ratings because they can now be seen on two stations instead of one. It seems there might be two edges to that particular sword. The GM, what would you do if you were in that situation. Would you go with Fox 13 or WMC or WREG for news content. Maybe not even use your primary anchors to provide the face for local news at all? Just curious and by the way, as always, thanks for checking in.

  3. ready camera one, take two Says:

    Or does LMT/PTY take a slice of the demographic pie and customize a newscast for a specific niche audience…just older viewers, younger (along the lines of the cable channel Current), or just the female demo?
    Instead of going wide and shallow why not go narrow and deep? Take a shot a something new. Shake up the market. It’s not like they would lose ratings…Andy Griffith reruns beat them at one point. I’m sure the experts/consultants have thought of it all though.

  4. The GM Says:

    Who you go with depends on when you run the newscast. If it runs on WPTY at 10p, options are limited to WHBQ b/c they do a 9p. If they choose to air a 9p on WLMT, then WREG and WMC are in the mix. As far as anchors, use a dedicated anchor (an up and comer at the news producting station) use the same weather, sports and reporters.

    As far as specialty niche — news is a 25-54 demo. If a specialty demo worked, a bunch of stations would be doing it successfully now. Fact is most 18-34s don’t yet watch news. They will as they age.

    In short, not much the Newport folks can do. Suck it up and continue to lose on news; eliminate it and sign a news production deal or eliminate it and replace with syndication. My guess is their ABC affiliation requires some form of newscast. The CW does not.

    The GM

  5. leadpipe Says:

    There are a couple of interesting threads about LocalTVllc and Young properties, at TV Spy One about KRON and one about Localtv.

    Thought is, they are more interesting in the Nashville station,…

    Remember, this company has purchased to “Groups” of stations so far. (NY Times Broadcast Group and News Corps Fox stations)

  6. Newsgal Says:

    I love how y’all love to pontificate about the closure of the ABC 24 news operation. While everyone knows the numbers are not good, they run such a lean ship they not only break even, they MAKE MONEY for the station. They have been MAKING MONEY for the past several years. Therefore there is no need to close the operation down. You can keep that rumor mill spinning, but you are only wasting your breath.

  7. The GM Says:

    Newsgal,
    Point made and point taken. Not rumor, just conjecture from 5,000 feet. This industry is transforming and with private equity demanding not just to make money but to also make the returns they bought into, the status quo is not good enough.

    The GM

  8. lead pipe Says:

    Hi Newsgal, please don’t think our “pontificating” has evil intent. We all know people that work at 24/30 and wish them well with long and rewarding careers. But, even with the great product they have, the ratings are pretty low, and it would be prudent for management to see if placing alternative programming could net even more money for the station. This isn’t our idea. It’s the pondering from many news experts across the country that 4th and 5th place stations will not be able to generate enough revenue (from their news) to remain a “news gathering station”

    I hope the new GM finds a way to make it work, “with news” but you have to admit, it has to be something they are looking at carefully.

  9. lead pipe Says:

    Newsgal… please take a look at this article, from May 20th.

    http://www.philly.com/inquirer/home_top_stories/45460502.html?page=2&c=y

    It’s out of Philly, but very well reflects the economic situation for all.

  10. Doc Pepper Says:

    The only way farming out the news works is if NC3 provides the operational and logistics for a separate set of anchors at ABC-24 or if ABC 24 goes to a 6:30 and either a 10:30pm or 11:00pm news time. Now I will say the 6:30 slot in Memphis is begging for a news show.

    The other caveat is that the CW30-ABC24 operation also has news on FOX-16 in Jackson.

    I can see re-packaging the TV-30 9:00 as a WREG run program. I can see the ABC24 news moved to 6:30pm and being a re-run of the NC3 6:00 (or an edited version with live weather.

    I still say 24-30 would be better served to fgo with gristly in your face news with anchors on the scene of that day’s big news event. I’ve see the gristly news with closeups of wrecks and a lot of on the scene live reporting (makes you think of Cops TV show, but in Memphis, it would be more like Reno 911) draw the viewers.

  11. Jim Peterson Says:

    The bigger question is: what has caused the YOY total collpaes in 24/30’s Ratings?

    If you look at recent ratings–everyone else is basically holding on to a flat audience. And ALL gains are migrations away from 24/30. I don ‘t have an axe to grind and there are some wonderful people over there, but the collapse in ratings is stunning. I would think–at very least–further consolidation of news ops and newscast reductions–would be the very least that would happem there.

  12. Brian Trombetta Says:

    It would be advantageous for whoever buys KRON to form some kind of alliance with KNTV the NBC owned and operated station here in the Bay Area. KRON currently is the My Network Affiliation they have branded themselves as the Bay Area’s News Station and from what we have heard from NBC in New York the O&O’s may be outsoucing the local news. WNBC, KNBC and WMAQ have already made some alliances with the FOX O&O stations so since here in the Bay Area we have no FOX O&O it would make sense that whoever the new owners are they sould make it their number one objective if and when the Young sells.


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