Citadel prevails in WLNE Providence bankruptcy bidding


The last time Channel 6 WLNE Providence RI was sold, the ABC affiliate fetched $14M. This time, $4M was enough to send the station toward the portfolio of a new owner. The stalking horse bidder, Citadel Communications, won the station despite only offering the third highest out of four bids.

Citadel earned the station by being the only bidder who had a deal in place to remain with ABC. The contract between the station and the network is due to expire at the end of March, and none of the other bidders had been able to strike a deal going forward.

That left Liberty Investors Group ($4.3M), Brine Broadcasting/former station GM Mitch Dolan ($4.2M) and former Providence Mayor Joseph Paolino ($2.2M) on the outside looking in.

The station’s receivers will also receive $1.8M in receivables owed to the station.

According to reports, the other bidders were offered the opportunity to come up with the full price up front in the absence of an agreement with ABC, but declined.

Global Broadcasting of Southern New England was the defaulted owner of the station, and was not happy with the sale. Global’s Kevin O’Brien failed in an attempt to get the court to delay the sale of the station, which he said was still worth $9M. He thinks more time and better marketing should have been applied to the sale.

Citadel’s Phil Lombardo plans to maintain the station’s local news presence, and is getting ready to assess the station’s staffing.