Monday, December 03, 2007

EXCLUSIVE (?): WJW, FOX O&Os To Oak Hill

UPDATE 10:37 PM 12/4/07: We are trying to nail down this story on a nationwide basis, which we reported based upon information from long-time, trusted, reliable sources in this area.

The sale we were told was announced locally has not yet been reported elsewhere, but we're keeping an eye on it.

We'll add a new update later.

-- The Management


This may well be a national exclusive.

OMW hears that it has been announced to staffers at Cleveland FOX owned-and-operated WJW/8 "FOX 8" that the local station, and eight other FOX-owned stations are being sold to Oak Hill Capital Partners. The below-top-10 market outlets were put on the block to help fund FOX parent News Corporation's successful bid for the "Wall Street Journal".

Yes, that's the same Oak Hill Capital Partners which bought the New York Times TV stations, and now run them under the "Local TV, LLC" banner.

And yes, that's the same Oak Hill which hired former Clear Channel radio head Randy Michaels, he of suburban Cincinnati, to run the group.

The prospect was brought up recently in a Reuters article, which we found through Tom Taylor's daily newsletter.

OMW hears that Randy's name was mentioned at today's meeting with FOX brass visiting the South Marginal Road headquarters of WJW.

"Cleveland's Own" FOX 8 is the largest market station on the nine-station FOX sell-off list, followed by markets like Denver and St. Louis.

FOX's top 10 market O&Os (in places like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles) are staying with the company.

And unlike WJW, those big market stations have existing duopolies, which allows the company to operate two stations for not much more than the price of one.

Oh, and to answer a question we've already gotten from readers:

We haven't heard any definitive word, but we'd be shocked if Oak Hill/Local TV did not continue operating WJW as a FOX affiliate.

Though the network is selling the station, the FOX lineup and branding is very, very successful for WJW. Most industry observers believe the network affiliation won't go anywhere after the sale...


Neil said...

Maybe the Fox affiliation won't change. But the possibility is out there, as I suggested at the start of the NFL season when TV coverage of some of the Browns' games was listed
in a surprising way in the Plain Dealer.

Chris said...

This would be interesting, I would be curious who would take the FOX affiliation at that point? It would have to be some independant and would most likely be a UHF station. That'd be a blast from the past since WOIO 19 had FOX first.

ira said...

I would disagree with the premise that Fox is selling these stations to fund the Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal purchase.

IMO, these sales are to buy other stations in larger markets and stay below the 39% cap. For example in San Francisco, independent Channel 4, owned by Young Broadcasting is for sale.