Saturday, December 16, 2006

Who wants to buy WNEP?

With potential buyers already crawling through WNEP, everyone's wondering where the folks on Montage Mountain Road will end up. Will they wind up with a company that is just as good, or even better, than the New York Times? Or will a crappy outfit like Granite Broadcasting saunter in and swoop up WNEP?

Either way, whoever wants WNEP will have to pony up some major cash. Even if you don't believe the $100 million estimate, WNEP ain't going cheap. In a sea of stations that lose money, WNEP practically has its own printing press. It always makes money -- just look at the ad rates it can charge -- and it's got the long-dominant ratings to keep the cash coming in.

That's what makes guessing who will buy WNEP all the more difficult. Who doesn't want a TV station that makes money? From the Belos, to the Gannetts, to the Sinclairs, to the Granites, and everyone in between -- I wouldn't be surprised if one of those companies had its eyes on Moosic. I'd even go so far to wager that ABC might even look at WNEP. It's a long shot, but remember, WNEP makes money and has dominant ratings. Also, ABC does own stations in smaller markets, like Flint, Michigan.

However, WNEP's past and current success is no protection from failure down the road. Consider the saga of San Francisco's KRON. For the longest time, it was owned by the publishers of the San Francisco Chronicle, who poured money into KRON like there was no tomorrow. It was the WNEP of San Francisco. When the Chronicle put KRON up for sale, it was expected that NBC would swoop in and buy its longtime affiliate. S

uddenly, out of nowhere, Young Broadcasting ponied up more than $800 million for the station. NBC was outbid, and in revenge, it pulled KRON's network affiliation. Since then, KRON has slashed its budget, lost many of its best reporters, and now uses one-man-band reporters. Needless to say, its ratings went in the tank as well.

It will be interesting to see who ends up buying WNEP. Will things stay the course, as our president might say, or will we see drastic KRON-like changes? Or hell, will WNEP become even bigger than it is now?

As we like to say in television, stay tuned...

19 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one should count Nexstar out as a contender. Yeah, I hear the laughs, but they could turn to tears in a second.

You mention KRON - let's look much closer to home, as in WBRE. Nexstar overpaid big for WBRE because WBRE was a money machine. Was it the #1 market giant? No, of course not, but its financial performance was incredible, which is why Nexstar couldn't dump WYOU fast enough and make a run at WBRE. And you can slice, dice, twist, turn, and spin it all you'd like, but Nexstar did indeed "dump" WYOU. Oh, yes, let's not forget that Nexstar also destroyed WBRE's financial performance.

I won't believe Sook and Co. are out of this until someone else signs the deal and gets the license. Someone on another thread suggested WNEP employees keep a watchful eye for known Nexstar suits touring their building. You know what? You should.

8:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, being Granite just filed Chapter 11 w. 500M$ in debt, its fair to say they are off the list...

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't imagine any existing media company wanting all The New York Times stations. Remember, that's the plan. The buyer has to take the Cadillacs and the Corvairs.

Don't be surprised to hear Meredith Corporation is interested in WNEP and a few others. Former WNEP GM Elden Hale is with Meredith.

12:26 PM  
Anonymous former nexstar victim said...

Granite was already in debt when they bought WBNG. However, they hadn't filed for Chapter 11 yet. What does being in debt have to do with keeping them from considering WNEP?

I'm sure Sook the Schnook will find a way to get his grimy hands on WNEP. Nexstar destroyed WBRE and WYOU, and they will do the same with WNEP, if they ever got their hands on it.

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

puh-LEEZE!!!!!

We all know WNEP is up for sale. Aside from that, we know NOTHING, nothing but the same-old, lame-old rumors that have been half-baked, char-broiled, stewed over, cooked up and re-hashed here for weeks.

Howsabout we move on to other topics until there are some FACTS to report?

5:24 PM  
Blogger PBC Radio (WAVT & WPPA) said...

Being a bit naive...what does a 60 second spot go for on WNEP?

5:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howard:
Interesting you mentioned the ad rate that WNEP charges. Some would say it is to low, compared to other markets of the same size. I have heard some people at other stations in the market wish WNEP charged more, so they could bring their ad rates up to where they should be.

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Howard, and kudos for citing the KRON history. The similarities between KRON and WNEP are staggering. History very well could repeat itslef.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yah...WBRE doesn't make any money.
All TV stations make money...just not the 20% (minimum) profit they used to.

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I have heard some people at other stations in the market wish WNEP charged more, so they could bring their ad rates up to where they should be.
2:00 PM"

On the other hand, I'VE heard folks at 'NEP say they CAN'T charge more, because 'BRE and 'YOU will always undercut them. "Diving for dollars" is the accusation.

4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:24 PM:

Calm down. We didn't hear you complaining over the re-hashed WYOU/WBRE simulcast rumor threads. Your allegiance is somewhat transparent.

7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A single :30 spot on WNEP's early evening newscasts is in the neighborhood of $1,000. Few sponsors pay that much though, because the per spot rate goes down as the number you buy goes up.

8:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember in the old days when NEP was in downtown Scranton. They ran third in a three station market. When ABC starting getting the big ratings with shows like Happy days, Love Boat and so on in the mid 1970s, they became the #1 network and upped NEP ratings. Now you can put a role of toilet paper on NEP and it will get solid numbers. Funny how things change over time.

1:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If WNEP has all the eyeballs the ratings suggest, then they should be able to get whatever rate they want, regardless of what lower price another station would charge.

I believe the ratings on WNEP have more to do with the fact that this is still a diary market. I would bet the numbers would look much different if it was metered.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

4:20pm

WNEP sales people corner 70% of the buys by asking for the same amount WBRE/WYOU does.
Therefore, they get more money because they get 70% of the buy.
They have more viewers, but ask for 3rd place rates then secure triple the commercials and make tons of cash, screwing WBRE/WYOU.
It's a great sales technique happens everywhere.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm "5:24PM," who suggested we trade in fact not rumors. OK, looks like we've got one.

"News Blues" reports Tuesday that Albritton executives have been spotted at NYT stations in Huntsville and Fayetteville--maybe elsewhere. Anyone spotted them kicking the WNEP tires?

Albritton owns WHTM in Harrisburg, WJLA in Washington, and aside from that a bunch of stations in the deep south.

Anyone know anything about Albritton?

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Allbritton is a privately held company. The owner is a billionaire and he spends. The current big project is an internet venture in Washington called "The Politico." Several staffers from the Washington Post jumped over to work on it. A thread on tvspy.com gives the company good reviews.

10:56 PM  
Anonymous former nexstar victim said...

First of all, take what Snoozeblues says with a grain of salt.

Second, the Albrittons are very good friends with both Presidents Bush. They are also good friends with Prince Charles and the Royal Family. So, I would imagine Albritton stations' coverage of the President and the Royal Family is a bit one-sided. Perhaps folks who can watch WHTM could shed a bit more light on that.

The Albrittons and the Union representing WJLA in Washington are in the midst of another ugly contract negotiation. It took the Union and Albritton SEVEN YEARS to agree on their current contract (which is almost up I believe).

1:10 PM  
Anonymous fomer nexstar victim said...

I read on FTVLive this morning that WJLA and the Union finally agreed to a contract. It took them two years to come to an agreement.

8:24 AM  

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