The owner of WBKI-TV, the local CW affiliate, is putting the station up for auction. WBKISLG, LLC is the licensee and consists of a small group of shareholders, most of whom were in the outdoor advertising industry. The primary shareholder is based in California.
The station is accepting offers up until April 17, then making a selection from interested bidders. The starting price is a bargain in the TV business — $750,000.
Carol LaFever, the station’s local general manager, said a new owner could be in place as early as August.
“The owner has been entertaining the sale of the station for a couple of years,” she said. “We thought the most effective, and most interesting way to approach it was to offer it for auction. The price is set to provide a possible point of entry for some non-traditional broadcasters.”
The buyer will have to find a new location, as the property on Alliant Ave. that currently houses the station’s studios has been sold.
LaFever said it was important for the employees to know the situation, and they were told in a staff meeting on Monday. She said that publicizing the auction was a positive way to handle the situation.
“I’m going to be excited to see how much of what we developed as local programming is enhanced by new owners,” she said. “I think we’ve established the fact that local programming other than news has an audience and can be entertaining.”
We’ll start speculating soon enough on who might buy the operation, though it would certainly be considered positive news for the city if a local group would step to the plate. No other station in the market has local ownership. The CW has made great efforts to produce and air local programming, including the Louisville Live show that just expanded to an hour this week. It also has a relationship with WHAS-TV to air the nightly news at 10.
“We expect that our relationship with Belo to remain unchanged during the process,” said LaFever.
The station put Jean West back on the air with a medical show, offered a home to two local sports radio shows cancelled by Cumulus Media (Dave and Scott in the morning; The Freak in the afternoon) and airs a number of other local programs, including locally-produced home and cooking shows and an auto racing program.
After the Jump, Read the Text of a Letter being sent to prospective buyers…
Here’s the text of a letter being sent to prospective buyers.
CobbCorp has been retained by WBKISLG, LLC the licensee of WBKI-DT and WBKI-CA to conduct an absolute auction for the assets of both television stations. The assets include equipment and the tower and site of WBKI-DT. WBKI-DT is a full power television station serving the Louisville DMA as the market’s CW Affiliate. WBKI-CA is a low power Class-A television station repeating most of the programming of its sister station in the northern portion of the DMA.
Only cash offers exceeding $750,000 will be considered with the seller retaining the sole right to determine the ultimate purchaser.
Licensed to Campbellsville, WBKI-DT broadcasts on channel 19 and WBKI-CA broadcasts on channel 28 and is licensed to Louisville, Kentucky. WBKI is carried on over 377,000 households via cable and an additional 171,300 households on satellite.
Louisville is the 50th ranked Nielsen market in the country with approximately 649,000 households. The city is the 16th in the country in population rank. Television advertising revenue in the market is estimated to be about $85,000,000 in 2009.