Friday, December 01, 2006

Tipster: Interested buyers looking at WNEP

A tipster claims WNEP is already being shown off to some interested buyers. You may remember that the New York Times wants to sell WNEP and the rest of its TV stations. According to another tipster, employees have been told the station is worth about $100 million. Either the interested buyers have DEEP pockets, or WNEP has overestimated its value.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

WNEP should sell for $100-million or more, but the Times Company's attempt to sell the stations as a group might drag down its value.

WNEP has outstanding ratings, a superb reputation, a great physical plant and an envious location. Except for perhaps Oklahoma City, other stations in the chain can't say the same.

It's hard to believe a new owner would be better for employees and viewers, unless former GM Elden Hale could put together financial backing and buy the station.

8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Changes in ownership of many media outlets tends to weaken, not strengthen, those same outlets. But I think a good argument for the opposite could be made in this instance.

9:57 PM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

Back when I was Bart Sommers, I did a piece on the three stations and what they were worth. This was because WDAU was being sold and its owners were angry at me for breaking the news and naming the new owner (they wanted to keep it secret from the staff).

Anyway, I estimated WDAU as worth $11m (it sold for $12m) and the other stations were worth, at the time, something like $21m. That was a long time ago, possibly before the Chopper and all the other bells and whistles, not to mention the ratings dominance.

I could see 16 easily being worth in the high double-numbers, maybe more. The demographics in this area are changing as people move here from the Metro area; add to that the possibility of Wall Street West (if we don't screw it up) and you have good potential.

10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WBRE sold the first time for in excess of 20 million, maybe more like 24-25 million. That was the early to mid 80s. WNEP is likely worth the asking, but can it happen?

Laugh if you'd like, but do not underestimate the Sook/Nexstar wildcard in all of this. These people are brutal, cold, heartless, greedy, but they are not stupid. If they could put a package together to grab WNEP, they will. Of course, that means dumping WBRE and WYOU, which they'd do in a hearbeat. Maybe that's what these people are up to at the moment - trying to manipulate a buy of WNEP. Anyone with an ounce of savvy knows that something is up with Nexstar.

11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We already did screw it up. It kicked into high gear with the lousy industrial parks, the business boosterism and all the taxpayer-subsidized ripoffs, like the Keystone Opportunity Zone deal. And take a look at the school districts with their armadas of yellow buses. One needn't be a rocket scientist to figure out that this living arrangement is not sustainable.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A possible takeover of WNEP by Nexstar has been rumored before, and pretty much got giggled away, like it could never happen. This outfit, Nexstar, owns how many TV stations right now? Is it 48, 49? Tell me a group with those kind of assets, liquid or otherwise, couldn't mount a reasonable package to offer the NYT for WNEP...

7:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


For Nexstar to buy WNEP, Perry would have to sell WBRE or WYOU, or both.

He's already levereged up to his eyeballs--his $14 stock hovers around $4.40--and who'd want to buy what's left of 22 and 28?

I've said it here before: Perry Sook buys Pintos and drives them until the wheels fall off. Why woould he buy a Porsche?

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For Nexstar to buy WNEP, Perry would have to sell WBRE or WYOU, or both.

Christ Almighty, try reading my original post on the matter, please. Sook owns 49 goddamned television stations, he could, Nexstar could, find a way to buy WNEP. And I'd take a piece of the action that this is exactly what he is up to right now - unloading those mutts on S. Franklin and going after Montage Mtn. Rd. Nexstar stock is and has been a joke since the IPO. Do some homework, read the prospectus. We are all failing to see the BIG picture with this guy.

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Folks in the Valley... ya'll fail to realize that WNEP isn't going to be sold to anyone quickly.

The NYT wants to sell all stations as a package, but just recently, Clear Channel put their 40 stations plus on the market, thus diluting the price per station and / or package of anything on the table right now.

"Cheap Channel" has stations stretching from Bakersfield, Califonia, to Elmira to Harrisburg with stops in between.

Oh yean, Rochester, as well.

I figure if Mr. Sook likes to drive the wheels off the property.. he's probably looking that those run - down Clear Channel stations, rather than the boys on Montage Road.

Perry and company could probably purchase individual Clear Channel stations... rather than all the stations in the NYT group.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Earth to 11:44PM...Earth to 11:44PM...We're all dying to hear more about the yellow school bus peril and how it applies to broadcasting. Weapons of Mass Transportation, maybe?

Cue the revolution?

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correction: the banks own 49 tv stations until Perry pays off his debt.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howard: help me spread the rumor that Perry Sook will be touring WNEP Wednesday afternoon.

Then Wednesday morning I'll set up a stand outside selling hemlock, strychnine and razor blades: I'll split the profits with you.

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the rumors that NYTCO might go private? Could this affect the NYTBCAST sale?

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correction: the banks own 49 tv stations until Perry pays off his debt.

Yeah, and just what equity do any of us here have in a television station? The guy, love him or hate him, is CEO of a company that owns 49 FCC licenses.

8:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would Perry have to unload WYOU/WBRE ? He loopholed his way into owning 2 stations in the same market, why not 3 ? The laws are changing and he knows it.

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was doing a little I-team style dumpster diving on South Franklin Street and I came across a memo titled “PROPOSED ACQUISITION” to “Perry” from “Tim” and marked “FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.”

I can’t say for sure that this is from WBRE/WYOU Acting GM Tim Bush to Perry Sook, but read it for yourself.

—LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: This is expensive real estate. One reason is it sits on a bluff overlooking I-81. That could work in our favor, though. For example, although the footprint is small we might be able to replace the current helipad with a Starbucks drive-thru. Think of the volume we could generate if we had Joe Snedecker selling coffee to passersby every morning while he does the weather. He could even charge for autographs. We’d split the fee with him, making up for the pay cut we’re going to force all employees to take. Of course, if we get a good offer on the entire parcel we can move WNEP to 62 South Franklin. A “For Sale by Owner” sign on the building might be all it takes (no sense paying a realtor).

—SPEAKING OF LOCATION: I’d like to explore the idea of making Montage Mountain Road a toll road and charging a fee to get off I-81 there.

—LETTING THE AIR OUT OF SKYCAM: Leasing out the helipad presupposes that we get rid of the helicopter. It should fetch a pretty penny on the aviation market, and think of the money we’d save on the pilot, Randy What’s-His-Name, on fuel, maintenance, insurance, etc. A definite plus.

—BILLBOARDS: At the very least we should look at renting space for a minimum of six billboards on the roof and grounds. Let’s take advantage of that prime location overlooking the interstate. And let’s not forget the back of the building: how about one HUGE billboard facing the ski slopes advertising ski apparel in letters 120 feet tall? Or we could put a huge movie screen up there and entertain skiers as they make their way down the slopes. Not sure how to make big bucks off this, though.

—MANPOWER: too many people doing too little work. Should be able to cut the staff by one-half, especially if we make better use of interns. The one-man-band concept needs to be implemented. Who, for example, could do a better job shooting Mike Stevens’ artsy features than Mike Stevens?

—SALARIES: too many people, and they make too much. We’ve been able to move the bar substantially lower at 22 and 28. From now on those salaries will be the new market standard. Someone doesn’t like it, let them apply for work at 22 or 28 (LOL).

—FUTURE EXPENDITURES: The physical plant has held up remarkably well and the technology is, for the most part, up-to-date. That means we won’t have to budget for repairs or equipment for at least ten years. A little duct tape will take care of everything.

—AD SPACE: NASCAR is popular—almost as popular as WNEP. Let’s sell space on all the news cars and patches on all WNEP clothing. Why not put all the anchors in blazers with sponsor logos on the pockets and have them change coats during every commercial break? And on the outside chance you want to keep the helicopter, banner-towing can be a lucrative sideline.

—BACKYARD WEATHER: Rave already gets ton of publicity for building the backyard weather set. But let’s start generating money with the weather. I propose “Jack Williams, the official snow tire for ‘Backyard Weather,’” “L.L. Bean, the official boot maker for ‘Backyard Weather,’” “Burberry, the maker of the official ‘Backyard Raincoat,’” “Land’s End, the official sweater-maker for ‘Backyard Weather,’” “Minooka Subaru, the official car dealer for ‘Backyard Weather,’” and on, and on. On cold days an official oatmeal. On hot days an official lemonade. The list is literally endless. And let’s charge for the forecast: if you want 50% accuracy, watch the TV. But if you want 75% or 90% accuracy, we’ll e-mail you a more accurate forecast based on a sliding fee scale.

—SPORTS: in the old days, brewers sponsored sportscasts as a way to peddle beer. Let’s start a new trend. Let’s advertise hard liquor, and let’s do it in a creative way: “Get a score, take a shot.” The sportscaster drinks during the sports report: maybe different brands for different sports. Viewers bet the over-under on when he’ll puke. We also use the guise of a “fantasy football” league to set up our own bookmaking operation, taking action on all the college and pro games.

—PARTICIPATING SPONSORS: You already know how well selling news time to lawyers has gone for WYOU. Then think of the WNEP possibilities. “On the Pennsylvania Road” brought to you by Garmin GPS systems—“Talkback” brought to you by a Aspen Dental—the “Public Service Bulletin Board” brought to you by OfficeMax—the “Holiday House” brought to you by Hallmark—The “Little League World Series” brought to you by Rawlings—“Healthwatch” brought to you by Tylenol—“Desktop Alert” brought to you by Staples—“Hometown Heroes” brought to you by the U.S. Army—the “Gas Tracker” brought to you by Sheetz. Our goal should be to get a sponsor ID or mention every 60 seconds in every newscast.

—PA OUTDOOR LIFE: Similarly, all the deer shot for “Pennsylvania Outdoor Life” should be processed and sold as “Official WNEP Venison Jerky.” Instead of tossing back fish, let’s bring them to the station and pass them out as staff bonuses. And when Don Jacobs sets up a salt lick, Morton Salt should be the sponsor. Let’s contact tobacco companies to sponsor an “official chew.” Let’s have an official rifle, shotgun, ammunition, knife, bow, arrow, cap, coat, boot, fishing rod, fishing line, boat, taxidermist. Can we copyright the color orange and charge hunters to wear it?

—HOME AND BACKYARD: enough said. It’s already the $5 hooker of local broadcasting. EVERYTHING is for sale!

—ELECTION COVERAGE: Let’s let candidates sponsor the election results crawls. For slightly more, we’ll use the numbers they supply.

—WEB SITE ADVERTISING: there’s not enough of it! Browsers should have to click through a fresh ad (or series of ads) to get to any feature on the site.

--CALL LETTERS: naming rights for stadiums are big money producers in sports. Why not naming rights for the station? WBOS (Boscov’s), WLOW (Lowe’s Home Improvement) WCVS (the pharmacy chain, of course). And change every two years, selling the rights all over again.

This is just a broad outline. With a little thought I’m sure we can think of new and creative ways to strip-mine WNEP. It took us far too long to trim the fat and muscle off 22 and 28, leaving just the bare bones. With a little effort we can bleed 16 dry by the end of the decade.

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, 7:49 PM - excellent piece, very well done. Sadly, much of it could happen, would happen, given the right set of circumstances. Nexstar buying WNEP? Maybe. Sure as hell wouldn't rule it out.

So, this is for former WBRE types who now work at WNEP; you know what Sook, Manson, and Bush look like. If you spot any of them in your building, make sure you post it here. You see 'em, you're screwed.

9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about "Timex, the official 'Newswatch' watch?"

5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd laugh 7:49pm, if I didn't think some of this stuff could come true. You may have given The New York Times Company some ideas.

The creative writing also makes me think I know the author. If I'm correct, have a couple cans of Pepsi on me.

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does "Outdoor Life" still have its cabin on the property? I propose making it a bed and breakfast.

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The creative writing also makes me think I know the author. If I'm correct, have a couple cans of Pepsi on me."

I think the author made the move to Mountain Dew in the last few years. Same company, same caffeine jolt, different drink.

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you folks need to take a TV real estate course. NEP's worth at least 150 mill. Ask any broker in the biz.

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Maybe you should take a course. The values are down b/c the stations are being sold as a package deal.

6:57 PM  

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