The 3/31 FCC vote on eliminating JSAs and joint retrans negotiations is getting some local attention in Ft. Wayne, IN, where The Journal-Gazette notes could it alter a deal by Quincy Newspapers to acquire a Fort Wayne TV station and manage another.
Last month, Quincy Newspapers announced intentions to acquire WPTA, Fort Wayne’s ABC and CW affiliate, from Malara Broadcasting Group. The agreement was touted with SagamoreHill Broadcasting’s intent to buy WISE, the city’s NBC and MyTV affiliate, from Granite Broadcasting Corp. Under that arrangement, Quincy also was to manage WISE.
A week after Quincy announced its plans, the Justice Department told the commission that JSAs allow broadcasters to sidestep rules put in place to limit the number of stations they own in a market.
Louis Wall, president and CEO of SagamoreHill, told the paper the FCC’s meeting has him nervous: “We are a government-regulated business, so when the Fed speaks, we have to listen. There is some concern about what will take place at the meeting. You would have to feel that way a little.”
Fort Wayne attorney Steve Shine, a member of the Federal Communications Bar Association, told the paper the government is trying to ensure fair play in the marketplace: “They want to put up some firewalls. I will say this, though, and that is that Quincy is a family-owned company. There hasn’t been a family-owned broadcaster in Fort Wayne since the 1970s.”
The advantage of family-owned stations is officials tend to have a better pulse on the community and are more responsive, Shine said.
Ralph Oakley is president and CEO of Quincy. He told the paper that speaking on the matter is speculative at best because the FCC could decide not to take action. The executive, however, did say he has a contingency plan: “We’ll make this happen and it will be within the guidelines of the FCC…We’re still looking forward to coming to Fort Wayne.”