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Ch.4 getting new owner, new reporter; Trump-less debate does well here

This is what I’m thinking:

The owner of WIVB-TV is expected to change hands for the second time in about a year, with the new owner likely leading to some anxiety in the halls of the Elmwood Avenue CBS affiliate.

Nexstar, which is referred to as Death Star by some cynical media watchers because of its cost-cutting practices, announced Wednesday it is buying Media General for $4.6 billion. Media General completed its purchase of LIN Media, Channel 4’s former owner, a little more than a year ago.

The new deal, which would make Channel 4 one of 171 stations in the expanded Nexstar group, is expected to take several months before it is approved by the FCC. That’s if it is approved.

Cox Communications, a cable operator, plans to object to the purchase.

According to reporter Jon Lafayette of the trade publication Broadcasting and Cable, Cox’s complaint is based on what it claims Nexstar is asking the cable company to pay for the right to carry its broadcast channels, which in the industry is referred to as retransmission consent.

“Nexstar is demanding Cox Communications customers pay triple the current price for retransmission consent or Nexstar will remove their signal from the Cox Communications lineup on January 29,” Cox said in a statement. “Nexstar won't even accept the very same rate that stations they manage agreed to just two weeks ago. As reported in Broadcasting and Cable Magazine, 'Nexstar sees the merger as a way to improve retransmission consent renegotiations.'”

The Cox complaint, according to the trade publication, continued: “Nexstar should not be allowed to become a larger company, which would force more cable TV/satellite companies and ultimately customers to pay higher fees for retransmission consent. This merger is bad for business, bad for consumers and is not in the public interest.”

Channel 4 is adding a new reporter. Rachele Mongiovi is a graduate of Kent State University who arrives about March 7 from WTAP in West Virginia.

The local rating for the Republican debate on Fox News without Donald Trump Thursday night still was a healthy 7.5. That was lower than the ratings for previous debates on regularly-watched cable channels, but the only programs that beat it here were two episodes of  "The Big Bang Theory," the CBS comedy hit that is usually the No. 1 or No. 2 program of the week here. The 8 p.m. edition had a 9.9 rating on Channel 4, the 9 p.m. edition a 7.7 rating.

WNED-TV has hired a new director of broadcasting to replace Ron Santora, who is retiring at the end of February after 42 years in public broadcasting but will remain a part-time consultant for the station and Classical 94.5.

His replacement, Kathryn Larsen, has worked in public television for more than 25 years, the last 14 years as director of programming at the PBS station in Providence, R.I.

Santora usually has to take the heat at times for aggravating local viewers by airing PBS programs like “Sherlock” later than they air nationally.

In a release, WNED/WBFO Chief Program Officer John Grant said: “We are fortunate to have Kathryn lead our television programming team… She has an excellent depth of experience, which includes a solid understanding of the Canadian marketplace. We are excited about the knowledge and insights she brings with her to serve our Western New York and Southern Ontario viewers.”

apergament@buffnews.com

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