With the FCC’s incentive auction set to wind down at the of March, there’s more news on the local station level in regard to what is to come in the months ahead — and what some companies will pocket as a result of the now-concluded Reverse Auction.
In Richmond, Va., American Spirit Media announced late Friday (2/17) that WUPV-47 will be shifting to a lower position in the TV spectrum, once the auction is completed and the station repack process unfolds.
“American Spirit took the opportunity to strategically create value for the company without impacting its mission to serve our local viewers,” the company said in prepared remarks. “That strategy resulted in American Spirit Media exchanging Channel 47 in the Richmond, Virginia, market for a lower channel position in the television spectrum.”
WUPV is operated by Raycom via a shared services agreement.
The move is expected to be completed by 2020, in line with other repack realignments.
Meanwhile, there is some confusion — and there are layoffs — in northern New England, courtesy of Binnie Media.
That’s the company led by investment banker and former U.S. Senate candidate Bill Binnie, who in fall 2014 launched “NH1” as a multiplatform all-news operation serving New Hampshire.
Binnie doubled the staff from 60 to 120, and doubled down on political advertising to fund the operation. With the lackluster political windfall seen at many a TV operation during the 2016 presidential election campaign, Binnie may have overestimated its ability to compete against Hearst-owned WMUR-9 in Manchester, N.H. for political dollars.
The New Hampshire Union-Leader reports that Binnie on Friday (2/17) will turn NH1 off once the spectrum auction concludes and the repack process starts.
At the same time, Binnie’s non-affiliate WBIN-35 in Derry, N.H., marketed as a Boston DMA independent station, is being shut down.
News programming ended immediately, the Union-Leader reports.
The newspaper reports that Binnie collected $68.1 million from the Reverse Auction. It then entered into a channel-sharing divestment of its remaining TV license rights “to a major television group” for an amount valued between $10 million and $30 million.
Binnie intends to use the proceeds to invest in radio stations, digital media, and outdoor properties.
It’s a big investment payoff for Binnie, who spent $9 million for WBIN in 2013.
In a statement, Bill Binnie said, “The sale of our television business makes strategic and financial sense. The deal makes WBIN-TV one of the most valuable media properties in the history of New Hampshire media.
While not denying reports of layoffs, he added, “Many of our employees at WBIN-TV and NH1 News will be transferred to our other media businesses. Our commitment to New Hampshire and local news has never been stronger.”
Meanwhile, listeners to Classical WBQX-FM 106.9, a Binnie-owned Class B that uses translator W245AA at 96.9 MHz to reach Portland, Me., fell silent over the holiday weekend, the Portland Press Herald reports.
Billed as “WBACH,” the newspaper notes that PD and host Scott Hooper was let go “several weeks ago” from Binnie after 22 years. Hooper was the lone full-time announcer at the station.
This is not the first sounds of silence for WBACH — in 2013 the station went dark for a six-month period, the Press Herald notes.
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