Journal sets precautionary pre-merger parking lot


Journal CommunicationsMultimedia Journal Broadcast Corporation believes that it will likely need to divest one television station and one FM radio station when it merges into Scripps, but to assure there is no delay in regulatory approval, it is placing two televisions and five FMs into trust.

The divestitures involve television stations in the Boise ID market and radio stations in the Wichita KS market.

The Boise stations are both major network affiliates. Generally, such a combination of O&Os is not legally permissible in a smaller market. They include ABC KIVI-TV and Fox KNIN-TV.

The radio stations include KFDI-FM, KFTI-FM, KFXJ-FM, KICT-FM and KYQQ-FM. The local ownership cap in Wichita allows no more than four same-service stations to be co-owned.

All of the stations will be under the TLC of Douglas G. Kiel of Kiel Media Group. Kiel was a Journal executive as recently as 2009 and has never worked for Scripps.

In documents filed with the FCC, Journal stated, “Journal anticipates that the FCC will condition its consent on Journal’s divesting an FM radio station in the Wichita, Kansas, market (a “Wichita FM Station”) and a television station in the Boise, Idaho, market (a “Boise TV Station”) prior to completion of the Merger. Journal is pursuing divestiture opportunities for both the Wichita FM Station and the Boise TV Station.  If, however, either of these divestitures have not been completed prior to the time scheduled for the Merger, Journal has proposed to the FCC to transfer these stations to a divestiture trust called the Journal/Scripps Divestiture Trust.  Designated Trustee is willing to act as the trustee under the Journal/Scripps Divestiture Trust in the event that such a trust is necessary.”

RBR-TVBR observation: Very smart. This leaves all options open in Boise and Wichita at the same time it eliminates a regulatory snag. The process of divesting one station in each market can proceed independently of the merger approval process, and the unsold stations can then be reeled back into the merged entity once it becomes clear which of the stations will be sold. This is a fine example of navigating the regulatory process as efficiently as possible.

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