Armstrong Williams, who as part of Sinclair's deal to buy the Barrington Broadcasting stations, will own, program and run stations in Flint, Mich., and Myrtle Beach, S.C. He says he's serious about the broadcasting business and hopes to add more stations to his portfolio.
Armstrong Looks To Build On WEYI-WWMB
Conservative TV commentator Armstrong Williams, who has teamed up with Sinclair Broadcast Group to acquire TV stations in Flint, Mich., and Myrtle Beach, S.C., says that he will be calling the shots over programming, personnel and other issues at the stations.
“In ownership, all decisions are yours,” he told TVNewsCheck in an interview today.
As part of Sinclair’s $370 million deal to buy 18 Barrington Broadcasting Group TV stations, Williams’ newly formed Howard Stirk Holdings LLC will be acquiring the license assets of Barrington’s WEYI (NBC) Flint and Sagamore Hill’s WWMB (CW) Myrtle Beach.
Under the deal, according to Sinclair CFO David Amy, the station group will guarantee Williams’ loan and become a “service provider” to Williams’ stations, presumably though stations Sinclair has or is acquiring in the markets.
In Flint, Sinclair owns WSMH (Fox) and its proxy, Cunningham Broadcasting, is buying WBSF (CW) from Barrington. In Myrtle Beach, Sinclair is buying WPDE (ABC) from Barrington.
Like Williams, Amy stressed that despite the connections Williams would fully control WEYI and WWMB.
Williams said some aspects of his agreements with Sinclair were still under development.
In his interview with TVNewsCheck, Williams said he wanted to wait until his deal received FCC and antitrust clearance before discussing specific plans for each of the stations. But he said he knows WWMB far better than he knows WEYI, because his production company has been producing some programming out of WWMB for 10 years.
He also said he doesn’t envison making huge changes that would affect the ability of either station to generate revenues. “While I want to provide community programming and reflect the community that the television stations are in, I’m in this business to make money, and I don’t apologize for that,” Williams said.
Williams also said that Sinclair has been distributing his programming — including his nationally syndicated The Armstrong Williams Show — for more 10 years.
In addition, Williams said he is currently looking for a residence in Myrtle Beach and intends to be actively involved in the operations of both TV stations. “I plan to be in this business for the long term, and not only with those two [WEYI and WWMB] stations,” Williams said. “My hope is to add more.”
Armstrong was reprimanded by the FCC in July 2007 for promoting the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind education plan in some programming, without disclosing that he had been paid by the Bush administration to do so.
The FCC also fined Sinclair $36,000 for airing some programming that included Williams discussing the No Child Left Behind that same year. Sinclair said it didn’t know about the sponsorship arrangement at the time.
“Sometimes you use bad judgment,” Williams says now.
“I suffered for it, but I paid the price. I’ve moved on and I’ve learned from it, and I’m a better CEO and entrepreneur as a result.”