Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A FOX 8 Folo

On this day after Christmas, we've had a couple of days to read followup on the reported sale of "Cleveland's Own" WJW/8 "FOX 8" and its seven mid-market owned and operated sister stations to Oak Hill Capital Partners.

It's old news to us, of course, though we did have one bump in the road - which we quickly and publicly corrected.

In the end, though, our first report that Oak Hill would be buying the for-sale FOX O&Os turned out to be fully correct...though we couldn't foresee the moves involving Local TV LLC's Randy Michaels, his move to Tribune, and that latter company's offering administrative services to Michaels' now-former company.

In fact, we don't think ANYONE could have seen this "outside the box" move by the former Clear Channel radio boss, a long-time resident of the Northern Kentucky suburbs of Cincinnati. (Thus, if Randy scratches his nose, he's arguably on topic for this report, give or take a river.)

Anyway, with the announcement Saturday morning that Oak Hill/Local TV and NewsCorp/FOX had signed off on the approximately $1.1 billion cash deal, it took the "mainstream media" until Monday to weigh in. Or Tuesday.

That's when the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Frank Bentayou chimed in with his article on the deal.

There's nothing not already reported elsewhere in Bentayou's story. A large part of that is because WJW VP/GM Greg Easterly was "traveling" and "not returning phone calls", and FOX PR types in New York were also not chatty about the news.

But we'd like to repeat an answer - OK, reported by us - to one unanswered question in the article:

"There was no indication in the announcements by either party to the deal that WJW or any of the other stations would shift their affiliation from Fox to another network."

That is true, for what it's worth.

But OMW reported earlier that the deal - according to our sources - involves a 10 year deal under which Oak Hill/Local TV would continue to affiliate WJW with FOX. (And, we presume, the other seven stations.)

FOX may have wanted to cash in to help fund the acquisition of Dow Jones (The Wall Street Journal et al.). But it surely didn't want to leave its affiliation in key markets to chance.

So, what happens inside, and outside, WJW?

Don't expect any changes - at least until Local TV takes over the station. Depending on regulatory approval and the like, the companies expect that to happen in the latter half of 2008.

Our only question: What does the "shared services" agreement mean? Who will be the "ultimate boss" for the station outside of South Marginal Road? Will that be Local TV's Bobby Lawrence, Tribune broadcast head Randy Michaels (through his "The Other Company", or whatever that ends up being called), or both?

It may not matter, particularly if they follow Sam Zell's apparent philosophy - put the power in the hands of your on-site management, and make them accountable for the station's performance.

We'll see...


andrew727 said...

I'm hoping WEWS TV really puts a lot of work into their 60th Anniversary Special - interviews with those who worked for the station - including ones of past staffers who are no longer with us. Another would be including WEWS TV 5's Affiliation with CBS and Dumont. As well photos of its original digs before moving to 30th and Euclid. I have personal memories as a teenager in the late sixties and early seventies when I had the rare opportunity to hang with the Eyewitness News Team during the John Hambrick days. Even had the chance to ride along with Don Webster when he did his weather remotes at 6PM & 11PM - doubtful a teenager could get away with that now!-) Even the newsroom was an interesting place to be - watching the news director along with the reporters view first film and then videotape rough cuts, deciding what to use and to discard. For me, it was exciting times - something which I'll remember forever. Eventually I did work in various capacities in electronic journalism - including as a radio anchor outside of Cleveland. John Hambrick, Dave Patterson, Gib Shanley and Don Webster were my mentors - and oh yes, I enjoyed those lunches in Dorothy Fuldheim's front office next to the reception area! Thanks For The Memories! - Andrew Boggs, BA -

Tim Lones said...

They already did up their 60th anniversary during their newscasts Monday, December 17. They had a luncheeon of retired TV 5 staff that there were some interviews from, but mostly they ran the same features all day, plus some film of old TV 5 shows that they showed on their 50th annuversary which I taped on VHS in 1997. This and the TV 3 50th special (1998) I just had a friend put on DVD for me..I thought channel 5 could have done much more..I'm glad they did something though..

radiomayor said...

the FOX 8 move could be the best thing to happen to the folks there...

change is WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT......

do not presume...or assume....that oak hill or randy michaels involvement will be bad......
you could blow a great opportunity