Reports: Sale of NewsChannel 9 Parent Company Imminent

July 18, 2012 by

UPDATE 7/19: WSYR-TV has been sold to Nexstar; see our newer story here.

SYRACUSE -- The parent company of local ABC affiliate NewsChannel 9 (WSYR-TV) is reportedly getting closer to a sale, nearly four months after initial reports that Newport Television was putting itself on the market.  And it looks like there will be not one, but three buyers involved in the deal.

According to the Wall Street Journal, sources with knowledge of the pending deal say those three buyers include Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc., Cox Enterprises Inc. and Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.  The Journal says an official announcement could come as early as this week.

In the portion of the Journal article visible without a subscription, nor in an article by national television trade site TV News Check is there any indication as to which stations each company will be acquiring, nor is there yet any indication as to how much the deal is worth.

Newport Television was formed in 2007 when private equity firm Providence Equity Partners paid about $1 billion to acquire what was then the entire television division of Clear Channel.  (You may recall, at about that time, Clear Channel was in the process of going private itself, and had also sold-off nearly all of its radio stations outside of the top 100 markets, including the Utica-Rome market.)

Although early word on the deal doesn't indicate which buyers will receive which stations, FCC regulations which limit the number of stations a single company can own in a single market can practically rule out at least one possibility.  In Syracuse, Sinclair already owns Fox 68 (WSYT) and controls MyNetwork affiliate My43 (WNYS-TV).  As a result, believes a Sinclair takeover of WSYR-TV would be unlikely.

Nexstar doesn't own anything in Syracuse, but already has holdings in Rochester (where it owns CBS affiliate WROC and controls Fox affiliate WUHF) and Utica (where it owns Fox affiliate WFXV and MyNetwork affiliate WPNY-LP, and it controls ABC affiliate WUTR).

While WSYR-TV would "fill a gap" along the Thruway for Nexstar, the company's existing presence in Rochester would likely prevent Nexstar from also acquiring longtime WSYR-TV sister station WHAM-TV.  While that partnership would be terminated, WSYR-TV would still have a Rochester connection through WROC, and it would restore a former connection with Utica's WUTR.  In the end, this may be more advantageous since Syracuse and Utica news teams tend to overlap more often than Syracuse and Rochester.

Cox -- which once owned stations in what's now the Syracuse cluster of Clear Channel radio -- doesn't currently own any television stations in the upstate New York markets where Newport Television operates.  As a result, Cox could cleanly take over the entire "Central New York Station Group" without any ownership limit hurdles in any markets.  The master control "hub" at WSYR-TV Syracuse feeds programming to sister stations in Rochester, Binghamton, Elmira and Watertown.

Broadcasting and Cable provides more insight from the WSJ article, relaying that most of the 24 Newport stations being sold will go to Nexstar.  Newport will hold onto five stations for a separate deal, though there's no word as to when that might transpire or with whom.

Of course, we'll be watching for new developments and we'll bring those to you here on as soon as possible.  Readers, if you happen to learn of anything before we report it here, we're always grateful for your news tips to or via the Contact Form, where providing your name and email address are optional.

Our sincere thanks to the reader who found the above-referenced TV News Check article and passed along the link to us today.


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