Updated SYRACUSE -- Confirming yesterday's initial reports of the imminent sale of WSYR-TV and many other stations owned by Newport Television, we've learned today that the ABC affiliate will be sold to Nexstar Broadcasting Group.
An anonymous but trusted source tells CNYTVNews.com that staffers at Nexstar's CBS affiliate in Rochester, WROC-TV, were informed of the acquisition today.
A press release on Nexstar's corporate website confirms the news.
Updated: Originally, we hadn't heard from anyone in Syracuse about the sale, but we've since received an update from a source who requested anonymity. We've learned WSYR-TV employees received a letter from Newport head Sandy DiPasquale today, announcing the station's sale to Nexstar. This was followed-up by "a brief staff meeting," but staffers didn't learn much more, "just that it's happening and nothing is changing," the source wrote.
For the most part, the "Central New York Station Group" centered at WSYR-TV will remain intact, with Nexstar also picking up WETM (NBC) Elmira, WWTI (ABC) Watertown, and WIVT (ABC) and WBGH-CA (NBC) Binghamton. Nexstar is also picking up Inergize Digital Media, the branch of Newport which manages the platform for the stations' websites.
Leaving the "hub" will be WHAM (ABC) Rochester. It was a foregone conclusion that Nexstar would not be able to purchase WHAM-TV because Nexstar already owns WROC (CBS) and operates WUHF (Fox) in that market. Newport will retain WHAM-TV, but will continue to seek a buyer. Newport's only other station in New York, WXXA (Fox) Albany, also remains unsold for the time being.
Although the deal means NewsChannel 9 will no longer share a direct connection with WHAM-TV, the station will still have a Rochester connection via WROC-TV. It will also restore the connection it once had with Utica's WUTR-TV (ABC). That connection was severed in 2003, when Clear Channel -- former owner of WUTR and what was then-WIXT -- sold the Utica station to Mission Broadcasting, a partner of Nexstar. WUTR is co-located with Nexstar-owned WFXV (Fox) and WPNY-LP (MyNetwork).
CNYTVNews.com has reached out to WSYR-TV VP/GM Theresa Underwood for comment on the sale, but we have not received a response. (Granted, we only sent our message a short time ago.) If/when we hear back, we'll update the story.
One of our anonymous sources told CNYTVNews.com yesterday that several people "in suits" toured WSYR-TV's facilities last week. Since word of Newport's intent to sell was first reported in March, it was suspected that the "suits" were possible buyers, but staff were not sure which company they were representing.