Failed station waiver enables Arkansas TV deal


There aren’t enough stations in the Fort Smith-Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers AR DMA to enable a straight-up television duopoly, but thanks to a failed station waiver from the FCC, Local TV will be allowed to get a little sister for its CBS KSFM. The second station is KPBI.

KPBI was part of the failed Equity Broadcasting Group. It was sold Pinnacle Media, and then to Riverside Media, which in turn has filed to sell it to Robert Lawrence’s Local. The price is $784K

Riverside is headed by Gregory Fess, who was also an executive at Equity. He testified to the FCC that the station was bleeding cash, including losing $150K through the first seven months of 2011.

Parties from both Pinnacle and Riverside also testified that efforts to find a buyer for KPBI that did not already have an ownership presence in the DMA were unsuccessful.

For its part, Local TV has promised to invest in an upgraded facility for the station, and has pledged to put local programming on the station, including a new 30-minute newscast and expanded coverage of local sports and community events.

In granting the waiver, the FCC explained, “…we find that the combined operation of KPBI(TV) and KFSM-TV will pose minimal harm to our diversity and competition goals because KPBI(TV)’s dire financial situation hampers its ability to be a viable voice in its market.  Under these circumstances, allowing KPBI(TV) to be operated by a stronger station in the market will result in a definite improvement in facilities and programming, an outcome which clearly benefits the public interest.