Downturn: Kellner's Acme Communications Delisted

Acme Communications, the station group headed by Jamie Kellner with roots in the early days of the now-defunct WB network, is pulling itself off the NASDAQ. In what the company says is a cost-cutting move, its last day of trading is expected to be Nov. 3.

Acme, which now owns five stations affiliated with the CW network (the WB's successor), will continue to be traded on what's known as the Pink Sheets market.

Acme has seen its share price fall to some 60 cents over the past year, from a high in the $4 range. The company, with Kellner as Chairman/CEO, has looked to sell its remaining stations for some time, but apparently has not found suitable offers as the credit markets have tightened.

The company said the NASDAQ delisting will cut costs--estimated at around $300,000 a year--including listing and professional fees and administrative costs. Acme said the stock isn't heavily traded (it has less than 300 shareholders) and doesn't believe the benefits of a listing "outweigh the costs."



In August, it indicated that delisting was a possibility. "We've looked at every possible way to reduce our expenses, and this is the last large chunk of money that we can find," Kellner said at the time.

Even as the ad market for local stations weakened, Acme was able to produce a 4% gain in net revenues (from continuing operations) to $8.7 million in the second quarter, although it also posted a sizable net loss. The revenue increase was driven partly by a 10% jump in revenues associated with its other asset in addition to the stations, the nationally syndicated "Daily Buzz" lifestyle/news morning show.

The company was formed by Kellner, two partners (current COO Doug Gealy and CFO Tom Allen) and investors 11 years ago to build a group of stations affiliated with the WB network. Kellner had helped found the WB, which took to the air in 1995. He headed the network until 2004.

As late as 2006, Acme owned eight WB stations in the top-100 markets. (In 2003, it sold the WB stations in St. Louis and Portland, Ore. to the Tribune Co.) After various sales, it has reduced its current portfolio to five outlets.

When the WB was folded in 2006, Acme's WB stations switched affiliations to the CW. It now has the five CW affiliates and one MyNetworkTV station. The MNTV station gives it a duopoly in Albuquerque.

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