More details have emerged regarding Providence’s WLNE/ABC 6. As we reported earlier, there have been reports of six interested bidders for the struggling station. However, the names of three possible parties have emerged, bringing an entirely new realm of possibilities for Rhode Island’s Fastest Growing Station.
WLNE is definitely bringing out the big guns for its planned sale in March. A station insider spotted executives from three large companies, Belo, Nexstar, and Citadel, touring the station over the past few weeks.
Belo Corp. has been on a hot streak as of recently. The Dallas-based company posted a huge jump in earnings per share, going from $0.22 per share in 4th quarter 2009 to $0.39 in Q4 2010. In addition, the company’s website features a category for “Mid-Atlantic and Providence, RI” despite not owning a station in that market. This, however, may not be an indicator of things to come, as a quick check of the Wayback Machine showed that this category had been in existence since at least 2009.
Nexstar Broadcasting is another strong contender. Owner of mostly small market television stations, Nexstar’s stations are mostly underfunded mouthpieces of their respective networks. However, their fifty station portfolio holds their own in their respective markets. As a sidenote, many of Nexstar’s properties are owned by shell-corporation Mission Broadcasting and operated under JSAs with Nexstar. The company currently operates WLWC, so a “virtual duopoly” may be in the cards.
The third group, Citadel Broadcasting, is the owner of a diverse group of radio stations, mostly affiliated with ABC. This could be a natural extension of the brand for Citadel. However, they have not been immune from the slowdown in advertising revenue and listeners.
The real Citadel is Citadel Communications, a New York-based company with four television stations in smaller markets in the mid west. Citadel has been selected as the leading bidder for the station.
btvn has contacted these outlets for comment, but responses have yet to be issued.
In a memo obtained by btvn, WLNE general manager Steve Doerr stated that once the initial “stalking horse” bid was submitted, the subsequent offers should be made and the deal closed by March. WLNE was sold to Global Broadcasting in 2007 for $14 million. The station entered receivership last year and has been for sale for a short time.