Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Vision Bankruptcy

The operator of nearly all commercial TV stations in the Youngstown market is now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

New Vision Television owns CBS affiliate WKBN/27 and Fox affiliate WYFX (WYFX-LP 62/WFXI-CA 17/WKBN-DT 27.2), and operates PBC (Parkin Broadcasting) owned ABC affiliate WYTV/33 and sister MyNetworkTV affiliate MyYTV (WYTV/33.2). That's every commercial station in the Mahoning Valley except for one big one, Vindicator NBC affiliate WFMJ/21, along with its sister CW affiliate "WBCB" (WFMJ/21.2).

From New Vision's latest release today:

New Vision Television announced the approval of all of its first-day motions by the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

"The Court's prompt action is good news for New Vision's employees, advertisers, business partners and viewers," said Jason Elkin, New Vision's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "The Court's decision will allow us continue to operate our business as usual. The Court's quick ruling also marks a smooth entry into what we hope will be a short and consensual bankruptcy process that will restructure all of the company's debt and lead to the emergence of New Vision as a much stronger entity going forward."

The process is expected to be short because the company's lenders will basically end up owning the broadcaster themselves...though it takes money to keep the doors open:

New Vision received Court approval during its first-day hearings to keep all employee pay and benefits intact. The Court also approved New Vision's access on an interim basis to a new $28 million line of credit that will provide ample funding for the company through the remainder of the restructuring process. Next, the Court permitted New Vision to make key operational payments, including for taxes and insurance programs. Under the Court's order, sales incentives will also be funded. Finally, the Court established procedures to streamline the proceedings with the goal of speeding New Vision's emergence from bankruptcy.

How's this playing on Sunset Boulevard in Youngstown?

Well, if you want to know about the inside workings of the market's TV stations, you go to Youngstown Business Journal publisher Andrea Wood, also an OMW reader. From her article earlier today:

News travels fast inside the news business, so fast that newsroom employees of WKBN/WYFX and WYTV learned their parent company had filed bankruptcy when a reporter at competitor WFMJ called late Monday seeking comment.

New Vision Television sought protection from its creditors after the close of business July 13, and word that the Los Angeles operator of 14 TV stations had filed Chapter 11 spread quickly online and was reported by WFMJ and WKBN radio before local station managers could meet with employees Tuesday morning.

Oops! Yes, often the worst inter-office communications are in...the communications business.

There's not much more to say, locally. New Vision's local management isn't commenting, referring all questions to corporate headquarters. We imagine the folks on Sunset Boulevard, and those who moved over from WYTV's former Shady Run Road studios, are a bit shellshocked....crossing their fingers, and wondering if locusts are next.

But at least New Vision "gets" this whole new media thing! Quoting their release:

New Vision will consistently update its employees, advertisers and business partners at New Vision has also created a hotline to help answer questions about the restructuring process: 1-888-855-0777. Finally, New Vision employees and other interested parties can receive Twitter updates by following newvisiontv.

And oddly enough, New Vision PR staffer Lisa Cohen must be an OMW reader, at least via Google search, as we're getting these releases directly...


J. Moses(Tri-State Media Watch Editor) said...

Sinclair may be next...I just wrote a post about that one an hour ago.

Anonymous said...

Young Broadcasting's in bankruptcy, too. Problem is, they can't sell off their stations... and that's because they basically burned $800M in buying NBC affil KRON-TV San Francisco (shockingly outbidding the network), only to see KRON become worthless after NBC pulled its' affiliation.

An auction was set up for today, but it was pulled at the last minute. They've tried to put KRON itself on the market last year, but found no takers whatsoever. Chances are the banks might end up taking over all the stations.

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