SYRACUSE -- The private equity firm which owns NewsChannel 9 (WSYR-TV) could be looking to sell the ABC affiliate and the other 55 stations it owns under the Newport Television umbrella. That's according to sources who say Newport's parent, Providence Equity Partners, has retained the services of a firm to "explore" options for Newport's future -- options which could include the sale of the company.
Word of the possible sale was recently reported by Reuters, attributing to "three sources familiar with the matter," who opted to have their names withheld from the story. Officially, neither Providence nor its strategic partner (Moelis & Company) are commenting at this time.
A Newport Television employee who shared the link with CNYTVNews.com said, "heeeeere we go again!" It was just four years ago, this month, when Newport Television was born out of Providence Equity's $1 billion purchase of the entire television division of Clear Channel Communications.
Other Newport stations in New York State include Rochester's WHAM (ABC); Binghamton's WIVT (ABC) and WGBH-CA (NBC); Elmira's WETM (NBC); Watertown's WWTI (ABC); and Albany's WXXA (Fox). The company also offers CW programming on WHAM-DT2 and WWTI-DT2 and "TheCoolTV" on WXXA-DT2. Subchannels WETM-DT2 and WSYR-DT2 are the only DT2 stations in the company to program their own independent lineups.
Without any official comment from Newport or Providence, it's unknown whether the company would follow Clear Channel's preference of seeking a single buyer for the entire portfolio of stations, or if the company would be willing to parcel individual stations (or clusters of stations) off to different buyers.
Newport has maintained a master control "hub" for all of the company's New York stations, with the exception of WXXA. The "hub" concept was launched by The Ackerley Group in the 1990s, the company which owned the stations before Clear Channel.