The Following Press Release was distributed to the media by Western New York Public Broadcasting on November 8th. It includes a reference to our ongoing legal battle to block the sale of Channel 23. WNY Public Broadcasting, however, claims that we are a "Washington-based" organization, despite the fact that WNY Public Broadcasting chief Don Boswell met with the Coalition for Noncommercial Media (CNCM) executive committee members at one of our homes here in the city of Buffalo. We can only surmise that this is a deliberate attempt by WNY Public Broadcasting to misinform the media concerning CNCM. We are a local grassroots organization fighting to retain the public broadcast spectrum in Western New York. We are not based in the state of Washington or in Washington D.C. as inferred by the following press release.
November 8, 2000
Contact: Richard Daly, Sr. Vice President, Broadcasting (716) 845-7002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Western New York Public Broadcasting Association
Reaches Agreement With LIN Television Corporation For Sale of
WNEQ/Channel 23, Pending FCC Approval
BUFFALO, NY -- Western New York Public Broadcasting Association (WNYPBA) has reached agreement to sell WNEQ-TV/Channel 23 to LIN Television Corporation headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, for $26.2 million. The transaction is subject to approval by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
In addition to WNEQ, WNYPBA is the parent organization for public television station WNED/Channel 17 and radio stations WNED-AM 970, WNED-FM 94.5, and WNJA-FM 89.7.
LIN Television Corporation, owner of WIVB-TV/Channel 4, owns, operates or has agreements to purchase, sixteen network-affiliated television stations, including nine in the 50 largest television markets.
The sale of WNEQ will not result in any staff layoffs and proceeds will be devoted primarily to the creation of an endowment fund, the earnings from which will cover enhanced production and community service programs.
"This has been a long time coming," said Kevin Keane, president of Astronics Corp. and newly installed chair of the WNYPBA Board of Trustees. "Reaching this agreement with LIN Television Corporation positions us to greatly expand WNED’s already significant educational and cultural service to this region.”
"In addition to funding television and radio production, the earnings from the endowment fund will be devoted to enriching our educational and community outreach services," said Donald K. Boswell, WNYPBA president and CEO.
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WNYPBA Sale of WNEQ - Pg. 2
He explained that the productions made possible by this endowment fund will not only be aired locally but marketed to commercial and public broadcasters in other markets, as well as other outlets to create another source of revenue for WNED's operations. Additionally, endowment earnings will fund acquisition of television and radio programming from other sources.
The FCC has approved WNYPBA's application to convert WNED from a commercial to a public license and WNEQ from a public to a commercial license. However, that approval has been challenged in the Federal Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit by the Washington-based Coalition for Noncommercial Media. No action on the court challenge is expected until next spring.
Boswell said that if the FCC did not prevail in the lawsuit, WNYPBA would substitute WNED-TV for WNEQ-TV in the sale to LIN. In that case, LIN would pay an additional $5,000,000 or a total of $31,200,000. WNEQ would then be the source of public television programming in the Western New York and Southern Ontario area.
“We consider that scenario to be highly unlikely,” said Boswell. “We have consistently prevailed at the FCC and believe the Federal Appeals Court will uphold the Commission’s decision. However, LIN needed a guarantee that if they put the time and money into developing a new television service in the Buffalo market, it would-under any circumstances-end up owning a second station.”
Following final FCC approval of the sale and granting of appropriate licenses, WNED will continue to broadcast as public television and LIN Television Corp. will operate WNEQ under a commercial license.
Blackburn & Company, Inc., based in Alexandria, Virginia, marketed WNEQ on behalf of the Western New York Public Broadcasting Association.
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