Springfield IL is not one of the markets with enough size to support a television duopoly on sufficient independent voice grounds. But the failing finances of WBUI-TV combined with other factors to underpin an FCC decision to allow it to merge with GOCOM’s WRSP-TV. WBUI-TV, which brings the CW net into the market over Channel 23, is coming from ACME Television of Illinois for 4M. WRSP-TV broadcasts Fox on Channel 55 (and GOCOM has another Fox outlet, WCCU-TV 27 in Urbana).
The request for a waiver hinged on demonstration of WBUI’s low ratings, insufficient revenue, evidence that GOCOM’s stewardship will serve the public interest and lack of an out-of-market buyer. GOCOM was able to prove all of these points, significantly promising to inject new life into the station with dedicated local staffing, separate programming and new public affairs features, satisfying prong #3. The Blackstone Group marketed the station for seller ACME, and testified that it was unable to get a fair price from outside the market, satisfying prong #4. The deal was also unopposed, making the FCC’s affirmative decision even easier.