In FCC applications, LIN Media and Acme Communciations followed through with a plan under which Acme would spin off stations in Dayton, Ohio, and Green Bay, Wis. to LIN and an affiliate of LIN’s. If the deals win agency approvals, LIN would operate the stations in duopolies with major network affiliates. The pair of stations is priced at $11.5 million.
LIN Media today asked the FCC for a failed-station waiver of the small-market duopoly rule so that it could move ahead with its previously announced purchase of Acme Communications’ CW affiliate in Green Bay-Appleton, WIWB.
The rule bars ownership of two full-power TV stations in markets as small as Green Bay-Appleton (DMA 70), but offers a waiver if the parties can show the station is failing financially.
If LIN gets the waiver, it would operate the station in tandem with its Fox affiliate in the market, WLUK.
The request was bundled with Acme’s FCC applications to sell WIWB to LIN and another CW affiliate, WBDT Dayton, Ohio (DMA 65), to Vaughan Media LLC, one of LIN’s virtual duopoly partners.
If the sale of Vaughan is approved, LIN would operate the station under contract in tandem with its NBC affiliate in Dayton, WDTN.
LIN is helping Vaughan line up the financing and is guaranteeing the loans.
LIN has a similar arrangement with Vaughan in Austin, Texas. Vaughan owns CW affiliate KNVA there, but has ceded operational control to LIN’s KBVO, the NBC affiliate.
According to the FCC filing, LIN is paying $2.3 million for WIWB and Vaughan/LIN is paying $9.2 million for WBDT.
In May, LIN announced that it had contracted to operate WIWB and WBDT. That deal included options for LIN to buy the stations. In August, Acme announced that LIN had decided to execute the buy options and had transferred its right to buy WIWB to Vaughan.
In its FCC filing, LIN said its deal for WIWB met all the criteria for the failed station waiver.
WIWB has an all-day audience share of less than 4%.
WIWB has had a negative cash flow for the last three consecutive years.
Selling to a broadcaster outside of the market could only have been done at an artificially depressed price.
LIN also said that its ownership of the station would result in better programming.
The persistent poor financial condition of WIWB has hampered the ability to create and regularly air locally produced informational programming.
“Under its ownership, LIN intends to devote the local manpower and physical resources for WIWB to provide a substantial amount of locally produced and community-focused service in order to become a local voice in the Green Bay-Appleton market.”
In particular, LIN promised to broadcast a weekly public affairs program, a quarterly town hall meeting, hourly weather reports and news, emergency news and weather, as well as local events and high schools sports.
The application also noted that Acme has asked the FCC for permission to change the WIWB’s call letters to WCWF to reflect is CW affiliation.