For several years Greg Phipps has enjoyed high ratings for his Fox station in Lima, OH, WOHL – quite a feat for an LPTV. But now he’s fighting in court to hold onto that affiliation. According to the Lima News, a local judge this week set a trial date of September 5th and extended a temporary injunction that prevents Block Communications and Fox from pursuing a new affiliation deal. Block, which owns full-power WLIO, an NBC affiliate, wants to put Fox on a DTV multicast channel.
Lima is an unusual TV DMA. WLIO is the only full-power network affiliate and already has the CW on a DTV multicast channel. Phipps’ Metro Video Productions has three LPTVs, with CBS and ABC in addition to the Fox station. But the Fox affiliate was the first station that Phipps launched and continues to be the ratings and revenue powerhouse for his operation. “We won’t be able to survive,” he was quoted as saying in court, when testifying about what will happen if Fox moves to his competitor.
For Block, President Gary Blair testified that pursuing the Fox affiliation was a business opportunity. According to the Lima News report, he said Fox representatives had been in talks with Block since late last year on the possibility of signing an affiliation deal to give the network a way to reach more viewers.