By SCOTT FYBUSH
Editor’s Note: We’d planned to put up next Monday’s NERW early ahead of what is, for many, a holiday weekend. It will publish later Thursday or early Friday with complete coverage of the FCC’s new TV allocation plan that was released Thursday afternoon. But in the meantime, here are some of the headlines that we’ll be fleshing out:
Perhaps the single biggest surprise on the list of licenses being sold is the presence of NBC’s flagship, WNBC (Channel 4/RF 28) in New York. The $217 million Comcast gets for that license is the second-highest for a single station anywhere in the country (Trinity’s WWTO in the Chicago suburbs tops the list at $304 million), and it doesn’t even mean that “WNBC” or “Channel 4” will disappear for New York viewers, since Comcast keeps Telemundo outlet WNJU (Channel 47/RF 36). WNJU will move to RF 35 and will surely end up as a channel-share with WNBC when it’s all done. Comcast’s other sales include WWSI (Channel 62/RF 49), its Philadelphia-market Telemundo station, which will likely end up sharing with NBC’s WCAU (Channel 10/RF 34, moving to 28).
Low VHF for pubcasters all over
As had been widely rumored, Boston’s WGBH will be headed back to low-band VHF, relinquishing its current RF 19 spot to go down to RF 5 and pocketing $162 million in the process. (And, we’d expect, moving its flagship PBS programming to sister license WGBX, which stays on UHF and moves from RF 43 to 32.) WGBH also gets $56 million to move Springfield’s WGBY (Channel 57/RF 22) down to RF 13.
Other public TV licensees moving to VHF include Pittsburgh’s WQED (13 to 2), Providence’s WSBE (Channel 36/RF 21 to 2) and Allentown’s WLVT, which pockets more than $80 million to enter into a channel-share with an unnamed VHF signal, presumably Bethlehem’s WBPH (Channel 60/RF 9).
A few public licensees in the region cash out: New Jersey gets $332 million to give up its UHF spectrum at WNJN (Channel 50/RF 51) in Montclair and WNJT (Channel 52/RF 43) in Trenton, while secondary public broadcaster WYBE (Channel 35) in Philadelphia walks away with a cool $132 million for its spectrum.
Cashing out on duopolies
Plenty of broadcasters are taking spectrum money to shut down half of a duopoly: Univision, for instance, will surrender WXTV (Channel 41/RF 40) in the New York market and put both of its channels on its other New York signal, WFUT, pocketing $199 million in the process. Philadelphia’s WUVP (Channel 65/RF 29) also goes away for $86 million, leaving WFPA-CD (moving from 28 to 35) to carry both networks.
In Buffalo, Nexstar will surrender the market’s oldest license, WIVB (Channel 4/RF 39), keeping WNLO (Channel 23) and $46 million. In New Haven, Nexstar’s WCTX (Channel 59/RF 39) goes away, presumably moving “My 9” to sister WTNH (Channel 8/RF 10) with a $110 million payout.
We’ll have more in our next issue about some other signals that are going away with big payouts: what, for instance, of Lehigh Valley independent WFMZ (Channel 69/RF 46), which sold its spectrum for $140 million and has entered into a not-yet-disclosed channel sharing deal? Or Tribune’s Fox affiliate WPMT (Channel 43/RF 47), which takes $50 million and will channel-share with someone, too?
Much more in a full NERW for your Friday morning reading…