NBC is selling two of its owned stations, WTVJ-TV in Miami and WVIT-TV in Hartford, Conn.
“We’ve taken a hard look at our portfolio and made some difficult decisions about what’s best for our business going forward,” NBC Local Media Division President John Wallace said Wednesday in an e-mail to staffers.
“With the exception of San Diego, NBC Local Media will concentrate on the nation’s top 10 television markets and on growing our digital platforms,” he said. “San Diego, which is operated as part of a joint venture with an outside broadcasting company [LIN TV owns 20%], will remain part of our group’s California connection, which includes our Los Angeles and San Francisco stations. We’ll also continue to explore the best ways for our entire portfolio to function in terms of new resources, new technologies and, most importantly, new ways of thinking.”
The evolution began in earnest when NBC’s English-language owned-and-operated stations group (which had sold its four smallest-market stations in 2006), changed its name to the NBC Local Media Division in November.
The sale of Miami’s WTVJ, which serves the 16th-largest TV market in the country, and Hartford’s WVIT, in the No. 29 market, leaves NBC Universal with eight English-language stations, the smallest such group owned by one of the major broadcast networks.
In recent years, NBC-owned stations as a group have struggled to boost audience and ratings as one programming decision after another fell short of creating hits.
Some observers said the decision to sell WTVJ and WVIT suggests parent company NBC Universal is trying to get maximum value out of the stations before they lose power. In Miami, a major Hispanic population center, NBC Universal also owns the Spanish-language Telemundo network and Telemundo station WSCV-TV, which an NBCU representative said is not up for sale.
One industry source familiar with the local stations landscape said the availability of these two stations might lead to questions from potential buyers about other NBC-owned stations.
“As you know, our business is going through a period of tremendous change,” Mr. Wallace said in his e-mail. “We’re in the process of re-engineering the way we think, shifting our focus from a traditional stations business to becoming full-service local media production centers. We’ve also made two major investments, acquiring LX.TV and Skycastle Entertainment, and significantly increased the resources behind NBC Everywhere, our digital out-of-home operation.”