DMAS 44 & 54

Tribune SSA Deals Come Under Attack

Free Press and Put People First PA allege that Tribune’s proposed transfer of the three Local TV stations to a "shell corporation" are designed to let Tribune operate stations in markets where it also owns daily newspapers.

Watchdog groups have asked the FCC to deny an effort by Tribune Broadcasting to operate under shared services agreements three of the 19 TV stations the company is buying in its $2.7 billion acquisition of Local TV.

In a petition to deny filed at the FCC, watchdog groups Free Press and Put People First PA allege that Tribune’s proposed transfer of the three Local TV stations — WNEP (ABC) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pa. (DMA 54) and WGNT (CW)-WTKR (CBS) Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, Va. (DMA 44), to Dreamcatcher Broadcasting are designed to let Tribune operate stations in markets where it also owns daily newspapers.

The FCC’s ownership rules generally bar broadcasters from owning daily newspapers and TV stations in the same market.

The August 19 petition alleges that Dreamcatcher is a “shell corporation” owned by Ed Wilson, a former Tribune president. “The stations will be operated as if Tribune owned them outright,” the watchdog groups claim in their petition to deny.

“The commission should not approve the transfer of WNEP-TV, WTKR-TV and WGNT-TV to Dreamcatcher, because the grant would be contrary to the public interest and would continue a dangerous precedent allowing broadcasters to subvert the purpose of the local media ownership rules,” the watchdog groups said.

Said Gary Weitman, a Tribune spokesman, in response: “The transactions have been structured in compliance with FCC rules and precedent. We are reviewing the Free Press filing and will respond in due course.”

BRAND CONNECTIONS

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.


Comments (5)

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Mike Schram says:

August 20, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Is it not about time that we entered the present and future…Who really cares about Broadcast stations owning newspapers….It’s ok for station groups to own cable systems and networks. Newspapers are relics of the past…It’s ok for cable to air cursing, sex and more violence, but not ok for over the air…Our airwaves are polluted enough…It’s about time fthe folks from the FCC get real jobs….TV, digital, is so diluted that what is one more addition to the pot….

ali amirhooshmand says:

August 20, 2013 at 4:39 pm

My grandpappy told me about newspapers. I guess they was real important once upon a time.

Shenee Howard says:

August 20, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Not sure why there has not been legal action against Sinclair and all their shell companies that allow SSA with two and sometimes three stations in a market. They are the masters of skirting FCC rules but no one seems to be upset with them. All of these fake owners/operator agreements should be banned.

Joanne McDonald says:

August 20, 2013 at 6:28 pm

My ideas for trading and swapping stations connected to the Gannett/Belo and Tribune Local TV LLC deals:

KTVK(regains ABC affiliation)/KASW(Keeps CW affiliation), and KMOV to Hearst for WMOR to form a duopoly with WTSP
KMSB/KTTU to Tribune with/without KGW also going to Tribune to form a duopoly with KRCW (KOIN staying with LIN) for KDAF to form a duopoly with WFAA, KIAH to form a duopoly with KHOU, KFSM/KXNW, WTVR, and WDCW to form a duopoly with WUSA

WHAS to Scripps for KNXV and goes independent to form a duopoly with KPNZ

WHNT to LIN for KOIN to form a duopoly with KRCW or WHNT to LIN for WLUK/WCWF (KOIN stays with LIN and KRCW stays with Tribune and gains a duopoly with KGW)

An inconvenient comment and post by jamesjimcie.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    August 20, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    So James changes his name again…..now using TVPredictor. As noted previously all over the internet, no one really cares about your ideas as people who matter are actually doing what they are supposed to do without your calls from the sidelines.


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