Monday, June 17, 2013

Belo units in St. Louis, Phoenix to stay independent

KMOV-TV in St. Louis and KTVK in Phoenix will compete head on with Gannett's existing stations in those two cities when GCI completes its $2.2 billion acquisition of Belo Corp. later this year, according to a published report today.

In three other cities -- Louisville, Ky.; Portland, Ore., and Tucson, Ariz. -- Belo stations in the deal will also be spun off to a third party. But GCI will have more of a hand in their operation through a shared services contract, according to the report in Media Bistro's TVSpy.

In announcing the acquisition plans last week, Corporate told GCI employees that five of the 20 Belo stations in the deal would be owned by the as-yet-unnamed third party. Jack Sander, a senior advisor to Belo, will lead that entity, Broadcasting Division President Dave Lougee told TVSpy.

Lougee's remarks clarified how GCI and Belo will satisfy any regulatory concerns about maintaining competition in those markets where GCI already has a presence. Federal Communications Commission regulations generally prohibit investors from owning more than one station per market, or a station and a newspaper in the same market.

In St. Louis and Phoenix, GCI already owns KSDK and KPNX, respectively. In Louisville, it owns The Courier-Journal. In Tucson, it publishes The Arizona Star with Lee Enterprises. And in Salem, Ore., near Portland, it owns the Statesman Journal.

1 comment:

  1. Working independently is a stretch. Working legally, however, is not a stretch. This is all on up n' up. Sidecars and SSA's are within bureaucratic guidelines, but they are under attack because they are, after all, legal work-arounds to laws intended to make sure no one company elbows out other perspectives and opinions in a single market. Kinda silly in a multimillion channel internet world. But, since television is so important to politics (getting elected), heavy-up ownership in single market is frowned upon (as what would happen if a "conservative friendly" company owned all the TV stations in a market where there are diverse opinions?) So, basically, a buyer with conflicts, finds a willing partner, guarantees his loans, etc., gives him some sort of responsibility (from figure head to operator), then stuff the money in the pockets they were always originally intended. The willing partner is always well compensated for his willingness to be so independent. ;) This is an age old, legal, maneuver and --because it is legal-- it is closer to smart than immoral. Jack Sander is a smart dude and likely further "greased for life" for raising his hand for this duty (which is to make sure the FCC license is protected and the money ends up Gannett coffers). I think Gannett was smart for doing this deal before the rules get changed....and by the way...this is the deal that will get the rules changed. It's the poster child deal for anyone against sidecars.


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