A pair of network affiliates will be teaming up to cut backroom expenses in the Augusta GA DMA. Media General’s ABC WJBF-TV will be in the lead role, handling sales, local news and other operations for Schurz Communications’ NBC WAGT-TV. Meanwhile, a similar operation in Honolulu is dealing with opponents to the arrangement.
WJBF is upgrading its facility to handle operations for both stations. Meanwhile, Schurz management will be on hand to handle programming other than local news, to handle regulatory matters and to provide ultimate oversight for WAGT.
Bill Stewart, VP/GM of WJBF, said, “We are honored to be selected by an outstanding company like Schurz Communications to provide these services, and we look forward to the continued growth and success of WJBF and WAGT as we work together to serve our local communities with news, weather, sports, programming and community projects. This agreement will benefit local viewers and advertisers of both of our stations and associated Web sites.”
Schurz’s Marci Burdick made it clear that economic conditions are what spurred this agreement. “We are very proud of the staff and management of WAGT and their commitment to their community. But it has become clear that the current economic conditions will only make it increasingly difficult to operate as we have in the past. We believe the new agreement allows the best of both companies to be leveraged for the benefit of viewers and advertisers.”
The Honolulu situation would bring together via SSA Raycom’s NBC KHNL-TV and MyNetworkTV KFVE-TV with MCG’s CBS KGMB-TV. The agreement has been the subject of protest at the FCC, notably from the Media Council of Hawaii.
According to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Raycom has asked the FCC to stay out of a “private transaction” and claimed that the protest filed by MCH was based on inaccurate press reports and conjecture.
Protesters continue to complain, however. They note that the CBS programming and KGMB calls are going to swap with the MNT/KFVE pairing, in effect putting Raycom in direct charge of the two strongest properties while the remaining MCG presence oversees a weak little sister.
RBR-TVBR observation: If precedent holds, there is nothing wrong with the Hawaii SSA, as far as we can see. If it’s in trouble, so is this new one in Augusta and every other SSA that cannot be converted into an acquisition due to local caps. Stay tuned.