Clear Channel announced the sale of it's television division for $1.1 billion Friday, ending months of guessing while the deal was in limbo. Even though we don't really get into TV-related news here, we're reporting it because there's a lack of radio news the past couple of days, and it is somewhat related to CNY Radio.
The deal means Syracuse's WSYR-AM and WSYR-TV (the latter of which changed call letters in 2005 to match its radio counterpart) will no longer be huddled underneath the same corporate umbrella. The separation may not be obvious to viewers though; the radio station stopped using Channel 9's news music and voice announcer several months ago, shortly after Clear Channel put the "For Sale" sign on its TV division.
Its unclear how the sale to Newport Television will affect certain relationships between Channel 9 and the Clear Channel radio cluster -- for example, B104.7's Ron & Becky appear twice a week on Channel 9's morning newscast, while Channel 9's meteorologists provide forecasts to the radio cluster. (Our neighbors to the west will likely be asking the similar questions, as Rochester's WHAM-AM 1180 and WHAM-TV 13 are in a similar situation.)
One thing is for sure -- the TV sale allows Clear Channel to focus on the privatization of the rest of the company, a deal valued at $20 billion. Even though Clear Channel had insisted the TV sale could still happen even if the "bigger" deal happened first, that route would have required the FCC to re-evaluate and re-approve the TV sale.
One can only wonder if WIXT and WOKR will be back once again.
A good question, but we don't think it's likely. Both sets of call letters were reassigned to Utica radio stations (presumably to keep other TV stations from snagging them), and since then, CC has sold its Utica cluster to Galaxy Communications.
In the case of WOKR, the calls were reassigned to 93.5 FM/Remsen, which was almost immediately re-sold from Galaxy to EMF, which is now running the station as a K-Love affiliate. WIXT's calls were reassigned to the former WLFH 1230AM/Little Falls, which is still owned by Galaxy as one of three sportsradio stations branded "The Game."
Long story short, if Newport Television wants those call letters, we think they'll have to work out deals with the current owners. From the little we could find online (the search function on the FCC's website is terrible), a TV station can't use a radio station's call letters unless they're both owned by the same company. (PLEASE feel free to correct us if you can cite the appropriate ruling.) Even if WSYR-TV and WHAM-TV are allowed to keep their existing calls, we suspect Newport may change them anyway, to reinforce the stations' independence from Clear Channel.
We agree it would be nice to see the WIXT and WOKR calls return to their original homes, for heritage's sake. It would also be easier for stations to train their audiences to go back to the old calls, than to train them on a 3rd set of calls in just as many years. But Newport could decide it's too much work (read: too costly) to get those old call letters back.