Patrick, Prather on the Heartland-Chambers buy


Patrick-CommunicationsHeartland Media (Oregon TV, LLC Robert Prather, CEO) has acquired three Oregon TV stations and 29 additional translators/LPTV stations from Chambers Communications Corp, a deal which takes Chambers out of broadcasting. The stations include three ABC affiliates: KEZI-TV Eugene, KDRV-TV Medford and KDKF-TV Klamath Falls. The price was $29.0 million and the deal was brokered by Larry Patrick of Patrick Communications.

Larry tells RBR-TVBR: “In a world of consolidation, it is interesting to see the decades-long ownership of these three TV stations pass from the Chambers family to Bob Prather, a fierce advocate of localism with a strong record of building successful television stations while he managed Gray Communications.  Bob is building his own new group now and the Chambers stations were a perfect fit with his goal of owning strong medium-market stations.”

Heartland also owns WKTV Utica, NY (NBC). Prather, a former president of Gray Television, bought WKTV in October for $16 million. The translators bought as part of the purchase cover a big chunk of Southern Oregon, including Coos Bay, Roseburg, etc.

RBR-TVBR did a quick Q&A with Prather on the deal:

How you feel about localism with these stations and your plans for the future with them?
“I’m a big believer on local broadcasters really being strong with local news, being involved in the community and making sure we do the right thing with these channels. I like our stations to feel like they’re part of the fabric of the community, what makes these towns tick. I think the more local news, the more local activities you can cover, the better.”

What about the threat here coming up on the 31st with the FCC vote on banning/unwinding JSAs and joint retrans. consent negotiations? I don’t think this will affect you specifically, but...
“I’m not sure it will get fully passed or implemented. There are just too many of these arrangements out there that have been doing this (JSAs, SSAs) for a long time. I think it would be very disruptive to the broadcast industry. I think it would be hard for something like this to get actually through the FCC and get enacted into a regulation. I think Congress might even step in. It’s like unscrambling the egg at this point. I think there are just too many stations that would go dark or have serious issues if they carried this out.”

If it isn’t corrected in Congress, what other measures could we see? Legal action?
“I assume there could be lawsuits. I’m not sure all of the legalities involved, but I assume the groups wouldn’t take it lying down–I wouldn’t think.”