TV Duopoly Ditched In Huntsville


By Adam R Jacobson

waayWAAY-31, an ABC affiliate in Huntsville, Ala., isn’t going to be operated by Raycom.

Instead, an entity created by Heartland head Bob Prather is.

In April, Calkins had agreed to sell WAAY-31 to American Spirit Media, which owns eight TV stations – all of which are operated by Raycom Media via Joint Sales Agreements or shared services arrangements.

This would have given Raycom control of WAAY, in addition to its own WAFF-48 in Huntsville, which is the market’s NBC affiliate and airs Raycom’s African American-targeted Bounce TV on its HD2 signal.

Now, WAAY is being acquired by Mid-America Holdings LLC, a subsidiary of USA Television – the entity formed in June 2016 that combines Heartland Media and MSouth Equity Partners.

A purchase price of $13.5 million has been confirmed via an asset purchase agreement made public by the FCC on September 7. A cash deposit of $675,000 has been placed in escrow by USA Television.

The creation of USA Television was made so it could initially acquire two Nexstar and three Media General stations; the $115 million acquisition of the five TV stations was made to allow the Nexstar-Media General deal to pass muster with the Department of Justice.

That deal was approved by DOJ on Sept. 2, so long as Nexstar sheds seven stations. Among the stations DOJ ordered the company to sell were WFFT-TV, in Fort Wayne and WTHI-TV in Terre Haute, Ind.

Those stations were part of the $115 million deal consummated in June between USA Television, headed by Heartland President/CEO Prather, and Nexstar.

Meanwhile, the original deal consummated in April that saw Calkins’ WWSB-7, an ABC affiliate in Sarasota, Fla., and WTXL-27, also an ABC affiliate, in Tallahassee, Fla., go to Raycom will proceed as planned.

Calkins exits TV ownership with the sale of the three stations. It will continue to operate newspapers including the Herald-Standard in Uniontown, Pa.; the Bucks County Courier-Times northeast of Philadelphia; the Beaver County Times north of Pittsburgh; the Intelligencer in Doylestown, Pa.; the Burlington County Times in Willingsboro, N.J.; and the South Dade News Leader in Homestead, Fla., to the south of Miami.

“We came to this decision reluctantly and after a long period of deliberation,” Contreras said in a company memorandum, TVNewsCheck reports. “It has become clear to us that size and scale will matter more in the long term for local broadcasters.”

Tribune Broadcasting owns WHNT-19, the CBS affiliate in Huntsville, while CW affiliate WHDF-15 is owned by Lockwood Broadcast Group.

Interestingly, Huntsville’s Fox affiliate WZDX-54 is part of the “” operation — owned by Nexstar.

Next articleStocks Break the Climb
Adam R Jacobson is a veteran radio industry journalist and advertising industry analyst with general, multicultural and Hispanic market expertise. From 1996 to 2006 he served as an editor at Radio & Records.