Jan 6, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Acme sells two stations to Tribune

Acme Communications will take a big bite out of its debt with the sale of WB-affiliated KPLR-TV in St. Louis and KWBP-TV in Portland, Ore., to Tribune Co. for $275 million. The deal is expected to close late in the first quarter of 2003. It will give Tribune, which owns 22 percent of The WB and is the largest WB affiliate group with 19 stations, a total of 26 stations, with 18 of them in Top 30 markets. “As large-market WB affiliates, these two stations will fit extremely well into our television group,” said Tribune President and Chief Operating Officer Dennis FitzSimons. “This is consistent with our strategy objective of extending Tribune’s reach to serve local viewers and advertisers in Top 30 markets.”

KPLR, which Tribune Television President Pat Mullen noted is “one of the highest-rated WB affiliates in the country,” will be acquired for cash. The KWBP transaction will be structured as a tax-deferred asset exchange funded partly with $55 million from the proceeds of the sale of Tribune’s Denver radio stations, a deal also expected to close late in the first quarter.

Jamie Kellner, who founded The WB and who doubles as Acme chairman and CEO and Turner Broadcasting System chairman, said the sale puts Acme “in a position to pay down nearly all of our debt … [and] to pursue strategic acquisitions that are in line with our core portfolio of growing, midsized WB affiliates.”

Transit strike threat boosts NY1

Time Warner’s NY1 delivered its best numbers ever on Dec. 16 when 241,000 homes tuned in for coverage of the possible transit strike during the peak morning quarter-hour from 8:15 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. That number was virtually tied with NBC owned-and-operated WNBC-TV’s 260,600 homes (“Today Show”) and Fox O&O WNYW-TV’s 250,400 homes (“Good Day New York”). NY1 normally averages from 60,000 to 75,000 viewers in the morning, said General Manager Steve Paulus. “A fair number are those tuning in just for a few minutes before they go to work, so there were probably a lot of unduplicated eyeballs,” he said. “It just goes to show when something is happening in New York City, New Yorkers know where they should turn.” The channel has produced “proof of performance spots” to air on NY1 to publicize its success that morning.

KPSP continues to aim high

General Manager Bill Evans of KPSP-TV in Palm Springs, Calif., ate some crow in local paper The Desert Sun for comments he made to Electronic Media last summer. He had pledged that his station, the market’s new CBS affiliate, owned by Cosmos Broadcasting, would be tops in the November book. It wasn’t, and instead captured third place in most dayparts. Still, Mr. Evans stands by his comments and is now predicting a February victory. “If I were coaching a baseball team I would say, ‘We are going to win the World Series,’ because that’s how I play,” he said. “I go into it with the idea that I will win. I will tell you that I’m going to win in February today.” Realistically, he added that he simply hopes February will be stronger. The station’s 5 pm. newscast captured a 2 rating and 4 share, compared with Gulf /California Broadcast Co.-owned ABC station KESQ-TV’s 6/12 and Journal Broadcast Group’s NBC affiliate KMIR-TV’s 6/12. At 11 p.m. KPSP checked in with a 2/10, KMIR with a 5/21 and KESQ with a 4/20. KPSP’s weekend news ratings were more competitive, he said.

WFAA team honored for ‘Fake Drugs’

Belo-owned Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV received a 2003 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for excellence in broadcast journalism. The journalists who worked on the station’s “Fake Drugs-Real Lives” story exposing police informants who planted fake drugs were honored. They include reporter Brett Shipp, producer Mark Smith, editor Kraig Kerchem and VP of news David Duitch. WFAA has won seven duPont-Columbia awards since 1961.

Hanning joins WWJ in Detroit

CBS’s Detroit station, Viacom-owned WWJ-TV, has a new general sales manager beginning Jan. 6. James Hanning comes to the station from the Winston-Salem, N.C., duopoly of WXLV-TV (ABC) and WUPN-TV (UPN), owned by Sinclair. WWJ is a duopoly with UPN affiliate WKBD-TV.#