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FCC Approves NewsChannel 9 Sale

FCC Approves NewsChannel 9 Sale

SYRACUSE — More than three months after Newport Television announced plans to sell NewsChannel 9 (WSYR-TV) and eleven other TV stations to Nexstar Broadcasting, the deal has obtained the last required level of approval from the Federal Communications Commission.  If both sides hold to their original sales contract, the sale should close any day now.

The approval was issued on Wednesday, and was due to appear on Monday’s list of “Broadcast Actions” announced by the FCC, but that list wasn’t included in the FCC Daily Digest until today, as the Commission’s offices were closed on Monday and Tuesday, due to Hurricane Sandy.

According to the sales contract included with FCC filings from July, Nexstar and Newport are expected to close on the sale within ten days of the FCC’s approval.  Regardless of whether that’s ten calendar days or ten business days, that deadline is fast approaching.  Perhaps the only way viewers will know the sale has closed, will be when newscast credits and the station website change the name in their copyright notices from Newport to Nexstar.

As early as March, rumors started circulating that Newport Television’s parent, Providence Equity Partners, was looking to sell off Newport’s properties.  It wasn’t until July that the deal was announced.  Rather than a single buyer for the entire group, Newport announced most of the stations would be split amongst Nextstar Broadcasting, Cox Enterprises and Sinclair Broadcast Group.

WSYR-TV and most of the stations in “the hub” formally known as the “Central New York Station Group” are among those being sold to Nexstar.  The only exception was Rochester ABC affiliate WHAM-TV, which could not be sold to Nexstar because the company already owns CBS affiliate WROC-TV and operates Sinclair-owned Fox affiliate WUHF through a shared services agreement.

The deal will also bring Syracuse’s channel 9 and Utica’s WUTR 20 under the same corporate umbrella for the first time in nearly a decade.  Both stations were owned by The Ackerley Group and then Clear Channel, until Clear Channel sold the station to Mission Broadcasting, which allowed Nexstar (which owns Utica Fox affiliate WFXV) to operate WUTR under a shared services agreement.

Timeline: Newport’s Farewell Tour

  • March 27: Reuters reports that Newport’s parent company, Providence Equity Partners, is exploring options to sell Newport.
  • July 18: The Wall Street Journal hears Newport is expected to make a major deal with Nexstar Broadcasting, Cox Entertainment and Sinclair Broadcast Group.
  • July 19: The deal is officially announced.  Most of Newport’s upstate New York stations will go to Nexstar Broadcasting.
  • July 26: The FCC says the deal is “accepted for filing,” meaning final approval is expected within the next few weeks.
  • October 24: FCC issues final approval on the transfer of licenses from Newport to Nexstar.  Companies had previously agreed to close within 10 days of this approval.

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