The new 30,000-square-foot home under construction for WRDW-WAGT, Gray’s CBS-NBC duopoly in Augusta, Ga., will do more than house the latest tech and workflows, it will also serve as a “billboard” to remind the locals to tune in, as well as a classy venue for schmoozing Gray advertisers and investors, especially during the annual Masters golf tournament.
The new 30,000-square-foot operation will house the group’s WRDW and WAGT and is slated to launch late next year.
Mike Oates and Sacha Purciful will oversee duopolies of WRDW-WAGT and WHSV-WSVF, respectively.
The fight between Gray Television and Media General over operation of Augusta, Ga., NBC affiliate WAGT has, in effect, ended. In a filing Tuesday with the Georgia Supreme Court, Media General withdrew its injunction, which the high court suspended last month and which had kept Gray Television from operating the station for much of February and March.
The Georgia Supreme Court yesterday lifted a lower court injunction that had blocked Gray from assuming full control of its newly acquired WAGT Augusta, Ga. Media General had won the injunction saying it could continue operating the station under joint sales and shared services agreement with Schurz, the station’s previous owner. John Ray, GM of Gray’s other station in the market, WRDW, says Gray and Media General are “cooperating to facilitate the smooth return of WAGT to Gray’s operation and control,” according to a local report.
How far can a court go in ordering broadcasters to comply with the terms of a contract? By trying to get a court to enforce a contract signed with a broadcaster, is the suing party infringing on a licensee’s control over its broadcast station license? These questions are addressed in a letter that the FCC released this week, sent to a federal district court in connection with a dispute between two big TV companies over the termination of a joint sales agreement between TV stations in Georgia.
Media General has incurred the wrath of the FCC for continuing to operate Gray’s WAGT Augusta, Ga., under joint sales and shared services agreements. It’s one the wackier cases I’ve seen in a long time. Media General, it seems to me, is taking a big gamble, given it’s pending $4.6 billion merger with Nexstar, and I’m not sure why.
A federal judge will hear arguments this Thursday involving a contract dispute between the station’s new owner, Gray Television, and Media General, the company that has been operating WAGT (NBC) under a long-term contract with former owner Schurz Communications. Gray, owner of Augusta’s WRDW (CBS), says the agreement dissolved when it acquired the NBC affiliate from Schurz. Media General, which owns WJBF (ABC), maintains the joint operating agreement is still in effect.
Newscasts produced by Augusta, Ga., NBC affiliate WAGT came to an end three weeks ago when the station was bought by Gray TV. But some WAGT staffers seem to have gone rogue, and continue producing NBC26 news online, via Facebook and website NBC26.tv. That site has a copyright to Media General, which sold the station to Gray last month.
A judge’s action Friday might delay Schurz Communications from selling NBC affiliate WAGT Augusta, Ga., to Gray Television Group, which operates the market’s CBS affiliate WRDW. The conflict between Media General and its ABC affil WJBF and the owners of the two other stations is complicated by the involvement of federal agencies and spectrum usage rights, but it boils down to a contract dispute, Judge Michael N. Annis said.
News anchors from WJBF will no longer be able to appear on WAGT following the dissolution of a previous joint operating agreement between the two.
With the sale of WAGT Augusta, Ga., from Schurz Communications to Gray Television, some news employees have been let go. Jay Jeffries and Barclay Bishop, who, until today, were anchors of the WAGT morning show, asked viewers to file complaints with the FCC and also encouraged viewers to watch competitor ABC affiliate WJBF.
When Media General’s Augusta, Ga., ABC affiliate WJBF took management control of Schurz’s NBC affillate WAGT in 2009, one of its goals was to maintain the distinct personality of WAGT. So, when Media General moved the duopoly into a renovated Barnes & Noble bookstore last fall, each station got its own newsroom and studio. Although the gear is the same, the on-air products are not.
Augusta, Ga., may be a small market, but its main newspaper, the Augusta Chronicle, is making big noise as one of the few sites to have found success with a metered paywall. Competition from local TV outlets, three of which are owned by Media General, is tepid.