Big Deals = Big Changes In Station Groups
BIA/Kelsey ranks Mission Broadcasting and stations owned by Stephen Mumblow as distinct groups with distinct ownership. But because they function essentially as subsidiaries of Sinclair, TVNewsCheck lumps their revenues together.
The group station coverage figures and numbers of stations were also provided by BIA/Kelsey. The number of stations includes full-power and low-power stations as well as repeater stations.
1. FOX TELEVISION STATIONS
2013 Revenue: $1.7 billion
Stations: 29 in 18 markets
Ownership: 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ: FOXA)
Key executives: Rupert Murdoch, chairman-CEO, 21st Century Fox; Chase Carey, president-COO, 21st Century Fox; Roger Ailes, chairman-CEO, Fox News/chairman, Fox Television Stations; Jack Abernethy, CEO, Fox Television Stations; and Dennis Swanson, president, station operations, Fox Television Stations.
What’s up: As part of News Corp. spinoff last year that created 21st Century Fox, the new company’s syndication arm, Twentieth Television, was moved out of the TV station group and became a division of the television production studio, Twentieth Century Fox Television. “This reorganization underscores the changing landscape of the syndication TV business, more closely aligning the distribution of our shows with our content creators,” said Chase Carey, COO of 21st Century Fox.
Fox-owned WWOR New York wanted to replace its traditional 10 p.m. news with something different. Chasing New Jersey, which debuted last July, certainly fits the bill. The show starts with the “Wrap," a roundup of everything from what the New York Post and NBC Nightly News are reporting to what’s “On the Blogs” and “Geek Stuff." If you’re looking for pop culture, with tomorrow’s weather thrown in, it’s there. The guts of the show are the enterprise stories from reporters (called “chasers”) “focusing on all things New Jersey." They have all the makings of viable, albeit atypical, news stories.
In the spirit of Chasing New Jersey — although in a decidedly slower Southern style — Fox launched a second unconventional, young-skewing newscast in January, this time on its WJZY Charlotte, N.C. Airing at 10 p.m., My Fox Carolinas News @10 is informal with no highly stylized set or anchor desk. Instead, the "senior digital journalist" — elsewhere known as an anchor — orchestrates the newscast by walking around the newsroom, stopping by reporters who tell their stories or tease upcoming ones. Sometimes they stand together; sometimes, the reporter sits at his or her desk.
2. CBS TELEVISION STATIONS
2013 Revenue: $1.5 billion
Stations: 30 in 18 markets
Ownership: CBS Corp. (NYSE:CBS)
Key executives: Sumner Redstone, executive chairman, CBS Corp.; Leslie Moonves, president-CEO, CBS Corp.; Peter Dunn, president, CBS Television Stations; Anton Guitano, COO, CBS Local Media; Ezra Kucharz, president, CBS Local Digital Media.
What’s up: In March, Ed Ziskind was named VP of business development and strategic partnerships at the station group. He reports to Amy Scanlan, the station group’s SVP, business development and strategic partnerships, and is responsible for working with the sales teams at the group’s local stations and national sales offices in New York, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh.
3. SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP
2013 Revenue: $1.34 billion
Stations: 162 in 78
Ownership: Sinclair Broadcasting Group Inc. (Nasdaq: SBGI)
Key executives: David Smith, president-CEO, Sinclair Broadcast Group; Steven M. Marks, VP-COO, television division; David Amy, EVP-COO; Christopher Ripley, CFO; Barry Faber, EVP-general counsel.
What's up: Since last year’s top 30 ranking, Sinclair has continued its acquisition focus, but has found itself stymied by the FCC’s reluctance to OK some purchases and its adoption of strict new criteria for evaluating shared services agreements (SSAs) in its review of TV station deals.
Last July, Sinclair agreed to buy Allbritton Communications’ seven ABC affiliates for $985 million. The deal also includes NewsChannel 8, a 24-hour cable-satellite news network covering the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.
While the addition of ABC affiliate WJLA Washington to Sinclair's portfolio was the highest-profile part of its purchase of Allbritton Communications' TV group, Sinclair CEO David Smith says what he was really after was the local Washington cable channel NewsChannel 8. He plans to combine it with the news resources of Sinclair's 101 news-producing stations to create a national cable news network with "a unique, customized local presence in our markets and the markets of other broadcasters with which we may partner in the future."
At the time of the deal, Sinclair said it expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2013. But with the FCC not agreeing to approve the transaction because of various sharing agreements involved, in March of this year, Sinclair proposed dropping the use of sidecars as part of its effort to push its acquisition of Allbritton through the FCC.
Sinclair says it will sell three stations that it now owns — WHP Harrisburg-Lancaster, Pa.; WMMP Charleston, S.C.; and WABM Birmingham, Ala. — to independent third parties. The company assured the FCC it would not enter any operational or financial agreements with any of the buyers.
To facilitate those three station sales since it hopes to close the Allbritton deal by July 27, Sinclair in April engaged Moelis & Co. as its financial adviser.