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New owner may take control of Channel 7 after May sweeps

By Alan Pergament

Channel 7 General Manager Mike Nurse said this week that the Federal Communications Commission is expected to rule on the sale of the station from Granite Broadcasting to E.W. Scripps Co. in the next few weeks.

If the sale of WKBW-TV to Scripps is approved as expected, the Cincinnati-based company is expected to take control by the end of May.

Scripps announced on Feb.9 that it had a deal to purchase Channel 7 and a Detroit station owned by Granite, which is controlled by a hedge fund, for $110 million in cash.

At the time, the parties said it typically takes three or four months for FCC approval.

A ruling in the next few weeks would fall into the time frame of three to four months. It generally takes three or fourth weeks to close the sale after FCC approval, which would mean Scripps would take over after the end of the May sweeps.

Scripps officials probably would prefer taking over after the May sweeps so the results -- which haven't been favorable to the ABC affiliate for years -- won't fall under the company's watch. Channel 7 is deep in third place in local news ratings. The ratings for ABC's top-rated news programs "Good Morning America" and "World News with Diane Sawyer" are also third in this market. 

The first sweeps period of significance for Scripps would be in November, by which time it might implement some of its plans to try and restore Channel 7 to its former glory. There also is a July sweeps, but it is by far the least important to advertisers of the four periods that measure household ratings and key demographics.

Scripps isn't allowed to share its plans yet, but the company is expected to do the typical things new owners do like change the set of the newscast and take a research survey to judge the popularity of the station's on-air staff.

It is believed that Channel 7 hasn't taken such a comprehensive research survey in about 15 years.

The sale to Scripps undoubtedly is both exciting and a little scary for station staffers. It is exciting because Scripps is expected to give Channel 7 more resources to compete with Channel 2 and Channel 4.

It is scary because the research survey could have an impact on whether some people keep their jobs and remain part of the station's proposed comeback.


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