Layoffs coming to Toledo TV SSA partner


American Spirit Media is buying the Fox outlet WUPW in the Toledo market, and as it has done in four other markets, it will turn over much of the operation of the station to Raycom Media, in this case pairing it with CBS WTOL. WUPW seller LIN Media has notified the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services that 63 layoffs are in store for the staff of WUPW.

According to the Toledo Blade, the layoffs are scheduled to occur sometime within the window of 4/24/12 and 5/8/12. LIN was not required to detail how many employees work at the station, nor did it mention if the layoff plan involved the entire staff.

American Spirit would have the option to rehire any of the laid off staffers.

A spokesperson for watchdog Free Press, which opposes these types of arrangements between local television stations, said this is one of the largest consolidation layoffs it has seen, comparable to the Raycom Honolulu three-station cluster that was said to cost 68 jobs.
American Spirit is buying WUPW from LIN for $22,112,000 in a deal filed with the FCC 1/11/12. The SSA was put in place prior to that, on 12/21/11. Under its terms, Raycom pays American Spirit $110,833.62 monthly, a figure that will be revisited on the first anniversary of American Spirit’s official acquisition of the station.

The other Raycom/ASM SSA markets include:
* Richmond VA, where ASM owns CW WUPV and Raycom owns NBC WWBT
* Columbus GA, where ASM owns Fox/MNT WXTX and Raycom owns ABC WTVM
* Wilmington NC, where ASM owns Fox WSFX and Raycom owns NBC WECT
* Ottumwa IA-Kirksville MO, where ASM owns Fox KYOU and Raycom owns ABC KTVO

RBR-TVBR observation: American Spirit must have a meaningful management presence at WUPW and holds ultimate responsibility for the station’s regulatory obligations. It must comply with EEO regulations, but to the best of our knowledge, the FCC has no further oversight over WUPW’s employment situation.