Buffalo report sparks speculation of channel 5 sale

December 11, 2013 by

SYRACUSE -- For at least a few years, Granite Broadcasting has been looking to sell off its portfolio of 8 television stations, including CBS 5 (WTVH).  Now, it looks like there could finally be some serious interest in the chain -- but insiders are saying it might still be a bit too early to seriously read into any clues.

The latest speculation comes after Buffalo Business First reported officials from E. W. Scripps Company recently took a tour of Granite-owned ABC affiliate WKBW-TV.  When officials from an outside company tour a television station, it could mean that company is seriously contemplating a purchase.  (Why else would they make the trip?)  But reporter James Fink said "insiders" downplayed the event, calling it nothing more than a routine tour of the facilities.  Fink reported Granite's corporate headquarters refused to comment on the matter.

The same article names Sinclair Broadcast Group as another possible suitor for Granite's holdings, while reporting Sinclair has denied any interest in Granite.

A Sinclair purchase of Granite would run into complications in Syracuse -- Sinclair just recently closed on its acquisition of the former Barrington Broadcasting, giving the company ownership of Syracuse's NBC 3 (WSTM-TV) and CW 6 (WSTQ-LP).  Although Sinclair already controls the day-to-day operations of WTVH through a "shared services agreement" initiated  by Barrington and Granite in 2009, FCC regulations would forbid Sinclair from owning all three stations outright.  In fact, Sinclair has already announced it doesn't plan to renew that agreement when it expires in 2017, casting an air of uncertainty over the future of the "CNY Central" branding that groups WTVH together with WSTM and WSTQ.

2 comments on “Buffalo report sparks speculation of channel 5 sale”

  1. Why is it that only Sinclair would be interested??? Aren't there a lot a other broadcast TV companies that would be interesting in buying these properties besides Sinclair? Or is it just a case of companies that would only be interested in owning TV stations within a given Neilson market. Like Gannett would only be interesting in TV stations how are in markets 50-75 for example.

    1. Before mentioning Sinclair as a "possible" buyer, the article does mention that it was E.W. Scripps who sent representatives to WKBW. So it's not "only" Sinclair that could be interested in Granite. However, Sinclair was the only other possible company mentioned in the Buffalo Business First article upon which this article is based. And it was noted that Sinclair actually denied any interest.

      However, it's worth noting that Sinclair and Nexstar have been doing plenty of buying nationwide over the past couple years, which almost automatically brings both names to mind anytime there's a group of stations up for sale...much in the way Clear Channel had a rep for buying up other chains left and right during its own era of rapid expansion.

      There may be other companies looking to buy, but as you inferred, some companies are likely only interested in doing business in major markets.

      Even though Granite has stations in Detroit and San Francisco, I get the impression Granite only wants to make a deal involving ALL of the stations, rather than selling them off one by one. As we can see, it's been taking awhile to find a buyer who wants everything, but it would probably take even longer if they sold the stations one-by-one... imagine how long it would take when they eventually sell all but whichever station is the least desirable out of the pack. By hawking the entire group as a package deal, they avoid that scenario.


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