The FCC has determined that ION Media stations which have been operating as satellites of flagships in three Nielsen DMAs may continue operating as such as the company works its way out of bankruptcy.
Two are satellites of WBPX-TV Boston MA — WPXG-TV, Concord NH and WDPX-TV Vineyard Haven MA. WPXU-TV Jacksonville NC is a satellite of WEPX-TV, Greenville NC in the Greenville-New Bern-Washington DMA; and WWPX-TV Martinsburg WV is a satellite of WPXW-TV Manassas VA in the Washington DC DMA.
ION said that the stations could not be operated competitively as standalones since they are located away from major population centers and are generally lower powered than other stations in their DMA. Even if they could be operated as standalones, ION estimated the costs of starting from scratch at $1.3M per station, a virtually impossible proposition in the current economy. All of these factors also add up to making the stations unsellable.
The FCC also noted that the satellite status was in place before the transaction contemplated in ION’s work-out, and granted consent to maintain satellite status going forward.