Local TV tries to waive Arkansas TV into local duopoly


The waiver argument being pursued by Robert Lawrence and Local TV LLC is the good old, tried-and-true failed station waiver, which it hopes will enable it to acquire KPBI-TV Eureka Springs AR, serving the Fort Smith-Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers AR DMA. The station’s litany of failure in a troubled economy would seem to make the request for a waiver a good bet.

The seller is Riverside Media, headed by Gregory Fess.

The price is $784K cash.

Local already owns CBS KFSM-TV in the market. But the market is not large enough to support a television duopoly, hence the request for a waiver.

According to documentation supplied with the transfer application and contract, KPBI was started up by ill-fated Equity Broadcasting Co. in 2000, and it originally was an affiliate of the PAX Network. It switched to the now-defunct Lick Network in 2003, moved to the now defunct WB in 2004, went to MyNetworkTV in 2006, and did well with none of them.

Equity went under, and the station was eventually picked up by Pinnacle and then Riverside. It tried to make a go of it with Retro Television Network, and is said to have bled out a $100K loss in the final four months of 2010 and another $150K in the first seven months of 2011.

KFSM is currently providing MNT on a digital side channel, and KPBI is carrying Retro and MeTV. Local will attempt to get favorable cable carriage for KPBI while the deal’s fate is pending at the FCC.

Local has promised to upgrade the KPBI’s facilities, add a 30-minute weekday newscast and increase local programming should the waiver be granted and the acquisition consummated.