The owner of WHTV Lansing, Mich., says the merger between Media General and Young Broadcasting shouldn't be approved until the commission determines that management agreements involving Young in Lansing pass muster.
Spartan Blows Whistle On Young Lansing SSA
Spartan TV LLC, licensee of MNT affiliate WHTV Lansing, Mich., is asking the agency to put a hold on the merger of Media General Inc. and New Young Broadcasting, pending certification that the shared services and joint sales agreements between Young’s CBS affiliate, WLNS, and Sheldon Galloway’s ABC affiliate, WLAJ, comply with FCC regulations.
Media General and New Young announced this agreement to merge last June.
The twist in this case is that Spartan’s WHTV already has a shared services agreement with Young’s WLNS.
According to the filing, Spartan uses studio space at WLNS and receives certain back-office and engineering services from Young employees.
“Ultimate control and management of WHTV remains under the control of Spartan employees, with the Spartan station manager and traffic manager reporting directly to Spartan’s vice president and interacting with the Spartan senior management on a daily basis,” it says.
In contrast, Spartan alleges, Young has apparently taken over full control of WLAJ in violation of FCC rules. “[T]here there does not appear to be an independent management structure in place for WLAJ, with the two employees assigned to WLAJ appearing to report to WLNS employees.
“Moreover, shortly after … the commencement of the SSA with Young, the facilities of WLNS and WLAJ were merged, the local ABC newscast [on WLAJ] was mothballed and replaced with a simulcast of the WLNS newscast, and the entire website for WLAJ was shut down with all Web traffic redirected to the WLNS website.”
Spartan did not explain why it is blowing the whistle on its SSA partner, but it did mention a possible consequence. “We anticipate that New Young may elect to discontinue the SSA and JSA with Spartan in retaliation for this Informal Objection, possibly requiring Spartan to sell WHTV under a distressed waiver,” the filing says.