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.
WRDW Explains News Changes At WAGT
Following the FCC’s approval of the sale of Schurz Communications’ TV stations to Gray Television last week, Gray has taken over operation of NBC-CW affiliate WAGT Augusta, Ga. (DMA 112).
Gray already owns WRDW, the market’s CBS affiliate, so the deal’s approval was conditioned on Gray ending a five-year-old operating agreement between WAGT and the market’s ABC affiliate WJBF. In addition, Gray is required to keep WAGT on the air with its fully licensed power level and with its NBC and CW program streams.
Gray said on Tuesday that it has complied with the FCC’s requirements. As a result, WJBF no longer acts as WAGT’s agent for sales, news or other services. WAGT continues broadcasting over the air on ch. 26 from the same location, with the same power level and with the same network programming as did before the closing. Moreover, WAGT remains on every cable and satellite system that carried its signal before the closing.
Gray said the only changes for WAGT’s viewers are the local newscasts. “We notified WJBF of the impending sale and likely FCC conditions in the middle of September 2015,” the company said. “Then and countless times thereafter, we continually reached out to WJBF and its corporate owners to begin a discussion on how we could cooperate to ensure a smooth transition for the station’s operations and employees.
“Unfortunately, WJBF and its corporate owners refused to agree to a smooth transition of personnel and indeed, WJBF has restricted the anchors and reporters who appeared on WAGT26’s newscasts from remaining with the station after the sale.”
“We wish we could have continued the existing newscast on WAGT26,” said WRDW General Manager John Ray. “However, WJBF’s refusal to work out a smooth transition of personnel and contractual restrictions WJBF put in place for the WAGT26 news talent force us to create a new team for WAGT26. Until then, WAGT26 will simulcast a co-branded newscast from WRDW.”
Sean Smith says:
February 17, 2016 at 8:39 pm
If what WRDW says is true… why were the former morning news anchors at WAGT bemoaning their lost jobs and advising people to watch WJBF, if WJBF’s Media General was the reason they were losing their jobs? COULD IT BE, that the anchors should have kept their mouths shut because they didn’t know what was going on behind the scenes?
Jill Hatzioannou says:
February 23, 2016 at 11:43 am
There appears to be more here than meets the eye. If Gray TV realized in September that WJBF was not going to facilitate the move of a news team and news programming that WJBF to a competitor, why weren’t they working on creating a new team already? In the highly competitive local news business did WRDW management really think that WJBF would gladly hand them the keys to something they had built and would then have to compete against.