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WNEP among TV stations reportedly up for sale

March 26. 2013 11:46PM

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MOOSIC — The ownership group of WNEP-TV and 20 other television stations nationwide has put the broadcasting arm of its company of for sale.

Chuck Morgan, the general manager of WNEP, an ABC affiliate based in Moosic serving more than 20 counties in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania, including Luzerne County, confirmed the company is for sale but declined additional comment.

According to trade magazine Broadcasting & Cable, Oak Hill Capital Partners, a private equity firm, has put its Local TV LLC stations on the block. In addition to WNEP, Local TV LLC owns or operates 21 stations, including KDVR in Denver, WJW Cleveland and KTVI St. Louis.

The New York Times Co. struck a deal in January 2007 to sell its nine-station TV group, including WNEP, to Oak Hill Capital Partners for $575 million. The company then added 12 stations.

Local TV LLC is based in Newport, Ky. James David, a company spokesman, said the company has no comment and declined to answer any questions.

According to Broadcasting & Cable, the company says the process might take up to a year and that staffers were told to go about their business as usual in the meantime.

Robert Bee, general manager for WBRE-TV, the NBC affiliate in Wilkes-Barre and WNEP’s chief rival for local television news, had no comment on the potential sale. Nexstar Broadcasting, the parent company of WBRE, could not purchase WNEP because of Federal Communications Commission regulations prohibiting one company from owning stations that combine for a greater than 50 percent share in a market.

Being up for sale is something WNEP went through in 2007 and WBRE in 2011, though the latter was never sold. It was announced on July 21, 2011 that Nexstar Broadcasting was exploring a sale, but a year later the company actually purchased 12 television stations and associated digital sub-channels in eight markets including Binghamton and Syracuse, N.Y., from entities controlled by Newport Television LLC for $285.5 million. The company went on to purchase several other stations, too, over the past year, including stations in California and Vermont, and talks of any sale have died down.

Nexstar Broadcasting, headquartered in Irving, Texas, now owns, operates or provides sales and related services to more than 65 TV stations, in mostly small- to medium-sized markets.

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