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.