UPDATED 6/13/07 10:00 PM
This just in:
News Corporation, owner of TV's FOX network, has announced it is selling Cleveland O&O WJW/8 and eight other below-top-10 market stations.
"FOX 8" is the largest market station on the block. The Cleveland/Akron (Canton) market is still hanging in there as the nation's 17th ranked TV market, after once being in the top 10.
Denver, which has grown to be right under Cleveland in market size (18th) is next on the FOX For Sale Block, with long-time FOX O&O KDVR/31 being sold off.
The rest of the for-sale list has a chunk of FOX stations in medium Midwestern markets like St. Louis, Kansas City and Milwaukee, in Salt Lake City and in medium southern markets like Memphis and Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem NC.
There had been rumors kicking around that FOX was looking to sell off its smaller market stations, though we'd have to say WJW and the Denver station are surprises on the list.
Though Cleveland isn't exactly a growth market - one metric used in such deals - WJW has been an exceedingly strong and successful FOX O&O, and barely lost a step or two after the transition from CBS.
But here's your wildcard in this: FOX is especially concerned with keeping its duopolies...in markets where the network owns two stations. And Cleveland isn't on that list.
(We'll leave it to the readers, in our comments section, as to why FOX couldn't buy a second station in Cleveland, among possible targets like WBNX/55 and WOAC/67. We have our own answers, but we want to hear yours, first.)
FOX also, curiously, declined to sell single stations in such markets as Austin TX (market #52) and Ocala FL (market #162 with Gainesville).
Our guess is that Austin is considered close enough to the FOX O&O duopolies in Houston and Dallas, and ditto with Ocala and the FOX Orlando duopoly.
Other single stations are still in the FOX universe, but all in large markets like Boston, Philadelphia and Detroit. And Baltimore's WUTB/24 is not being sold, but that's a short drive from the company's Washington DC stations.
If you'd like to comb over the FOX O&O station list, the company has one on its website.
It would appear that one reason News Corporation is selling off the stations is to raise cash to help fund its multi-billion dollar bid for Dow Jones, as speculated in this Associated Press article we found on the Akron Beacon Journal's website this evening...