Burn This: NBC Cancels Miami TV Station Sale

NBC Universal's efforts to lessen its exposure to the local station business by selling its Miami outlet have been halted, at least in part, due to the sputtering economy. An announcement Tuesday said its deal to sell the NBC station in South Florida to the Washington Post Co. is a no-go.

The announcement cited two reasons: "the current economic environment" and a delay in receiving approval of the sale from federal regulators.

The deal was to close by Jan. 1, and the FCC may have had issue with the Post Co.--under its Post-Newsweek stations group--having an NBC-ABC duopoly in the country's 16th-largest market. Post-Newsweek already operates WPLG, the ABC outlet, in the DMA.

NBCU's deal to sell WTVJ was reportedly reached for approximately $200 million this summer. Although the economy wasn't humming then, the ad market and prospects for broadcasters have dimmed considerably since.

The Post Co. may have sought a way to back out of the deal, or even had trouble securing financing with the challenged credit markets.



A Post Co. representative wrote in an email: "The FCC has not taken action in a timely manner, and yes, the economics have changed, in every business and ours included. The sale was to have been completed by the end of the year, but because of the delay and the concurrent changing economics, both sides decided not to go forward."

NBCU said it wanted to sell its Miami and Hartford owned-and-operated stations to focus on the seven stations it owns in top-10 markets and the one in San Diego. The company also wanted to expand its other ad-supported businesses in local markets. But the network has since said that revenues at its stations have been in a sharp decline and the outlook for 2009 is cloudy.

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