The commission also granted Sinclair's request that KCFW Kalispell, Mont., continue to operate as a satellite of KECI Missoula, Mont., under the satellite exception to the duopoly prohibition in smaller markets, those with fewer than eight independent voices.
FCC OKs Sinclair Purchase Of 7 Bonten TVs
The FCC has approved Sinclair Broadcast Group’s purchase of seven full-power Bluestone Television stations from Bonten Media. The deal was announced in April, shortly before Sinclair agreed to buy Tribune Media’s stations for $6.6 billion.
The commission also granted Sinclair’s request that KCFW Kalispell, Mont., continue to operate as a satellite of KECI Missoula, Mont., under the satellite exception to the duopoly prohibition in smaller markets, those with fewer than eight independent voices.
The Bonten stations:
|KCFW||NBC||Missoula, MT (simulcasts KECI)||164|
“Given that KCFW is the only full-power television station in its community of license, is located in a community of license with limited economic viability, and is costly to operate as a stand-alone station, it is unlikely that an alternative operator would be willing and able to purchase or operate the station as a stand-alone facility,” the FCC said. “Moreover, KCFW has operated as a satellite of KECI under Commission authority for almost 50 years, most recently reauthorized in 2007 in the Missoula DMA, and we see no evidence in the record that continuing the satellite exemption will harm competition in that market,” the FCC added.
Veteran broadcaster Randy Bongarten, backed by the Diamond Castle private equity firm, formed Bonten Media in 2007 by purchasing Bluestone Television for $230 million. The old Bluestone station still form the backbone of the group.
Through duopoly partner Esteem Broadcasting, Bonten added Fox affiliates in Greenville, N.C., and Chico-Redding, Calif. Esteem owns the stations, but Bonten operates them through joint sales and shared services agreements.