The buyer is Marquee Broadcasting, which also owns WMDT, the ABC affilite in Salisbury, Md. The Athens, Ga.-based university bought the station in 2008 as a commercial station, but converted it to noncommercial use three years later. Maquee will be switching it back to commercial use with diginets.
Marquee Broadcasting, owner of ABC affiliate WMDT Salisbury, Md., is buying WUGA Atlanta, from the University of Georgia for $2.5 million. (This story, as originally posted, said that WUGA was in the Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C.-Asheville, N.C., market. But, according to Marquee, Nielsen has reassigned the station to the Atlanta DMA.)
UGA bought the station (then WNEG) from Media General in 2008 for $1.5 million, figuring on operating it as a commercial station. But after three years, it converted to a noncommercial in 2011 under an affiliation with Georgia Public Broadcasting.
The station is licensed to Toccoa, Ga., between the Greenville-Spartanburg-Asheville and Atlanta markets. The tower in Toccoa is about 90 miles northwest of Atlanta.
Patricia Lane, president and co-owner (with her husband Brian) of Marquee, said that getting a station in the ninth largest TV market for $2.5 million was “a coup….We are extremely excited.”
She said the station will be switching back to commercial operations with multiple diginets. And announcement of which ones will be coming soon. “We trying to find the best we can for the dot-one.”
She said that the station is already carried by the two satellite operators, DISH and DirecTV, in Atlanta and that she will be working on getting carriage on Atlanta cable systems.
Aside from the programming, she said, the key to success will be achieving “name and brand” recognition. The station will be changing its call to WGTA, which stands for “Greenville To Atlanta.”
She said she hopes to win FCC approval and close the deal by June 30.
The sale contract contains a provision that says that if Marquee sells the station’s spectrum in the FCC incentive auction next year, Marquee must pay UGA one half of all proceeds from the sale in excess of $8 million.