The Atlanta-based station group has agreed to buy independent KSNB Lincoln-Hastings for $1.3 million with the intention of operating it in tandem with CBS affiliate KOLN. But first it must convince the FCC it deserves a waiver of the duopoly rules.
Gray Television is doubling up in the Lincoln-Hastings-Kearney, Neb. (DMA 105), market by buying struggling independent KSNB to go alongside CBS affiliate KOLN — if it gets the blessing of the FCC.
Gray has agreed to pay Colins Broadcasting $1,250,000 for KSNB, according to an FCC filing seeking approval of the deal. Colins is headed by Thomas Mitts, president.
KSNB has been on the rocks since Pappas Telecasting terminated its time brokerage agreement with the station in December 2009.
Colins’ efforts to operate the stations as a stand-alone have been fruitless. According to the filing, the station had no revenue in 2011 and in the first 10 months of 2012, losing $94,919 and $177,065 in those periods, respectively.
Gray is asking the FCC for a “failing station” waiver of duopoly rules banning ownership of two TV stations in markets with fewer than nine different stations ownership.
Gray said that the deal meets all four criteria for the waiver:
- KSNB has less than a 4% market share.
- The station has lost money for three straight years.
- The deal would produce tangible public benefits.
- The in-market buyer was the only reasonable that could be found.
In arguing that the deal would have public benefits, Gray is promising to spend “considerable sums” so that the station could broadcast news and other local programming. “In fact … Gray intends to broadcast a live, 30-minute, daily newscast on KSNB-TV in HD format. This newscast will focus in particular on Superior and other communities to the west of Lincoln in the geographically expansive television market.”
Under its management, Gray also said, KSNB would broadcast educational children’s programming on weekdays and “long-form programming such as the broadcast of local college sports games featuring local schools including Doane College, Crete; Concordia College, Seward; Hastings College, Hastings; Nebraska Wesleyan, Lincoln; and, potentially, local high schools.”