Local news outlet returns to Sarasota


When last RBR/TVBR wrote about SNN 6 the 24/7 cable news station was off the air after a management-led buyout deal hit a funding obstacle. Today’s update finds happier times in Sarasota, FL.

After reading our article, Citadel Communications CEO Phil Lombardo, who owns a home in the Sarasota market, contacted RBR/TVBR Publisher Jim Carnegie asking how to get in touch with SNN General Manager Linda DesMarais and her husband, Doug Barker, whom Lombardo knew from past associations. As a result, Lombardo is now an investor and the purchase of SNN from the New York Times-owned Herald-Tribune Media Group has closed. “It worked out nicely for everyone,” DesMarais noted.

“We signed back on the air at 5:00 pm on Thursday, February 26th,” DesMarais reported. The name has been changed slightly, to SNN Local News 6 to emphasize the “local” focus. All but two of the former news staffers are working for the new company and she expects to add some staff to handle the business operations that were previously covered by the newspaper. SNN Local 6 still has a content deal with the Herald-Tribune and has its studios in the newspaper’s building. It also maintains a close business relationship with Comcast, which carries the station on its systems in Sarasota and Charlotte Counties.

How’s advertising, we wondered?

“Good. In fact, our sponsors were calling us when we came back. I’ve never seen that in my career,” DesMarais said.

RBR/TVBR observation: Is this the only free-standing local cable news channel in the country? Allbritton owns News Channel 8 in the DC market and operates it in conjunction with WJLA-TV (ABC). Likewise, Tribune runs CLTV in conjunction with WGN-TV Chicago. Comcast and Hearst are partners in NECN, which serves the New England states. As far as we can tell, all of the others are owned by cable MSOs.