There is not enough room in the Green Bay-Appleton DMA for a fully-owned-and-operated TV duopoly – but a failed station waiver has been granted to Journal Broadcast Group by the FCC, allowing it to purchase outright a station it has been LMAing since 1994.
The station is MNT WACY. Journal filed 5/4/12 to acquire it from Ace TV Inc. for $2,037,500 cash, along with the assumption of unspecified liabilities. It has been operating under the wing of Journal’s NBC WGBY.
According to the FCC, the request for a failed station waiver was unopposed. That alone is not grounds for granting the waiver, however.
The applicants must show that the station is indeed failing and that there is no other “reasonably available entity” to buy the station in – in this case – Journal’s stead.
The financial woes of WACY date back to 1991, when its calls were WXGZ. It went both bankrupt and silent, and was not restored to the air until Journal came in and did so via the LMA.
The FCC noted that station’s current broadcast schedule which includes an average of four and a half hours weekly of locally produced programming, including local high school and collegiate sports programming.
In conclusion, the FCC wrote, “The applicants have submitted sufficient information to show that WACY-TV qualifies as a “failed” station under the Commission’s ownership rules, because the station was silent for a period significantly greater than four consecutive months prior to the LMA due to its dire financial situation and related bankruptcy proceeding. WACY-TV’s operations were restored only through the financial assistance and operational efficiencies generated by the LMA. As a result, both WACY-TV and WGBA-TV have been able to produce and broadcast programming that furthers the public interest. Moreover, we have reviewed the assignment application, and find that the applicants are fully qualified, and that grant of the instant application will serve the public interest, convenience and necessity.”
The waiver has been granted and the deal may proceed to closing.