WABI-TV to be sold

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Charles Everett 9 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #172334

    High Tides
    Participant

    It was reported today that Bangor’s CBS affiliate, WABI-TV 5, and its CW subchannel are being sold to Gray Television, the Atlanta-based firm that also owns WAGM-TV 8 in Presque Isle.   WABI, the oldest television in Maine was founded in 1953 as the counterpart to WABI Radio (now WABK), the oldest radio station in the state).  It was a project of the late Governor Horace Hildreth, a Maine broadcasting entrepreneur who at one time also owned WAGM and WAGM-AM (now defunct), WPOR AM-FM in Portland, and was part-owner of WLAW in Lawrence, Mass., which through merger evolved into what is now WRKO.

    Hildreth’s family company is now known as Diversified Communications, and is based in Bangor.  Also included in the sale is Diversified’s WCJB-TV in Gainesville, Florida.  This means not only that Diversified is getting out of the broadcasting business, but that New England is losing its next-to-last locally-owned commercial TV station.  The last one left is WCAX-TV in Burlington, which has been owned by Mount Mansfield Television since it went on the air in 1954.

    http://bangordailynews.com/2017/02/16/business/maines-oldest-tv-station-wabi-sold-to-an-atlanta-broadcaster/

    #172338

    Joseph_Gallant
    Participant

    Might this result in WAGM-8 in much-smaller Presque Isle becoming a satellite of WABI-5??

    Under such a scenario, most of WAGM’s news staff would be laid-off; WAGM would simulcast all of WABI’s newscasts, and only a couple of news crews would be left in Presque Isle to feed northern Maine stories to WABI.

    Such a move would be bad news for Aroostook County as well as western New Brunswick, where WAGM is probably “the only game in town” for local TV news.

    #172343

    High Tides
    Participant

    Interesting observation, Joseph — that is pretty much what happened a couple of years ago when Gannett (TEGNA) laid off most of the news staff of WLBZ in Bangor and the station became, for all intents and purposes, a satellite of WCSH in Portland.  (They have retained a couple of local reporters, but there are no longer any WLBZ newscasts.)  In this case, however, things may be different.  People forget how big Maine is: it’s over 400 miles from Kittery to Fort Kent — almost the same distance as from Boston to Washington.  Aroostook County is so far-removed from the rest of Maine that it might as well be on a different planet (indeed, culturally it identifies more with New Brunswick than with Maine and the rest of New England).  Presque Isle is 200 miles from Bangor.  While I’m certain there will be a good deal of “networking” between WABI and WAGM, I’d be willing to bet that WAGM will not lose its local newscasts.   Those of us outside The County rarely hear northern Maine news on television unless it involves something that affects the rest of the state.

    #172349

    Charles Everett
    Participant

    Nobody in Bangor is going to watch a Portland-centric newscast when Downeast Maine is under a blizzard warning, as was the case earlier this week. Also, WLBZ and WCSH are owned by Tegna, not Gannett.

    Might this result in WAGM-8 in much-smaller Presque Isle becoming a satellite of WABI-5??

    Not for as long as Presque Isle and Bangor are separate TV markets. It would require Nielsen to consolidate the two markets and Gray Television to prove its case to the FCC.

    Such a move would be bad news for Aroostook County as well as western New Brunswick, where WAGM is probably “the only game in town” for local TV news.

    Woodstock gets its local TV news from CTV or CBC. Edmundston, where French is the dominant language, get its local TV news from TVA or Radio-Canada.

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