Local TV

Acme Puts Exit Strategy Into Motion

Suitors kick the tires for Gealy’s group 7/12/2010 12:01:00 AM Eastern

How ‘Tweet’ It Is

We got a massive response to our “Local TV’s Top Tweeters Carry Clout” story in the June 28 issue, with scores of readers expressing their enthusiasm for Twitter and pointing out major microbloggers at their stations. E-mails came from all over the country, even from journo think-tank The Poynter Institute.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention KIRO Seattle’s Twitter terror, Jenni Hogan. With almost 17,000 followers, we’ve got to believe Hogan’s the most prolific local TV Twitter-er (nearly 11,000 tweets) in America.

“Jenni is a force to be reckoned with!” wrote in MissBeth. “She’s socially savvy, articulate, witty… I am VERY proud to call her one of my BTF’s…Best Twitter Friend.”

Others deserving of mention: KTVK Phoenix duo Carey Pena (6,584 followers) and Beverly Kidd (6,114), KIRO’s Julie Francavilla (5,351), and WCCO Minneapolis’ Jason DeRusha (5,365), while WTMJ Milwaukee’s Susan Kim has a whopping 18,100 tweets.

“After all the coverage of national people on Twitter, it’s awesome to read about some local people!” DeRusha wrote. “That’s where the real interaction is happening.”
Michael Malone

If there was any doubt that Acme Communications
was eager to sell its stations, the group made its endgame
crystal-clear a few weeks ago when it
slashed station staff and shuffled the front
offi ce. Recent pacts to share services with
LIN Media in three markets and outsource
management of its The Daily Buzz show to
Fisher were made to “hopefully speed an
orderly exit for Acme,” said President/CEO
Doug Gealy in a statement. “This reorganization
allows the company to focus on exit
strategies…”

Deal-watchers are curious about how
long it will take for someone to grab the
Acme stations, which include five CW affiliates and a MyNetworkTV. Watchers say
it’s likely they’ll be sold piecemeal to groups
with stations in the same markets, rather
than be dealt en masse.

“I think that ultimately, these stations will
have significant value to purchasers with
specific, strategic reasons for owning in these
markets,” says Michael Alcamo, president of investment bank
M.C. Alcamo & Co. “I don’t think they are best sold as a group.”

Acme did not return calls for comment.

While The CW network enjoys a growing audience, the
market for its affiliates isn’t all that strong. KCEB Longview,
Texas, sold for $948,000 late last year, while WGNT Norfolk went for $16.5 million last month. Industry
insiders value the Acme outlets
in the neighborhood of $6 million-$12
million apiece. On June 21, Acme announced
fourth-quarter 2009 revenue
was down 14% from the same quarter
a year before.

Despite Acme’s wishes for a quick exit,
some anticipate the group sitting on the
stations for the foreseeable future. A key
piece of Acme’s exit strategy is the deal
for LIN stations to provide services to
their Acme counterparts in Albuquerque,
Dayton and Green Bay, allowing the
company to cut significant staff and paint
a brighter profi tability picture.

Acme is seeking similar service agreements for its remaining
stations in Knoxville and Madison, Wis. Insiders don’t see
a sale happening until service deals are in
place for all of its stations and profitability
starts to climb. “Why not sit back and enjoy
the increased profitability of a JSA [joint
sales agreement] and sell a couple of years
down the road?” says Patrick Communications
Managing Partner Larry Patrick. “You
wouldn’t want to sell until you get cash flow
and value back up.”

Some believe that LIN, which owns three
CWs and manages others, is a suitor for the
four outlets it was to commence running in
early July. If he plans to take LIN’s relationship
with Acme a step further, LIN Executive
VP Scott Blumenthal isn’t tipping his hand.
“We’re pleased with the relationship that’s
just been established, and we’ll go one step
at a time,” Blumenthal says. “We’ll see what
the market is like.”

But the alliance seems to have at least expedited
Acme’s departure from local television. As Patrick puts
it: “I think that was a signal to the industry that Acme will probably
step away from day-to-day operations.”

E-mail comments to mmalone@nbmedia.com
and follow him on Twitter: @StationBiz

How ‘Tweet’ It Is

We got a massive response to our “Local TV’s Top Tweeters Carry Clout” story in the June 28 issue, with scores of readers expressing their enthusiasm for Twitter and pointing out major microbloggers at their stations. E-mails came from all over the country, even from journo think-tank The Poynter Institute.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention KIRO Seattle’s Twitter terror, Jenni Hogan. With almost 17,000 followers, we’ve got to believe Hogan’s the most prolific local TV Twitter-er (nearly 11,000 tweets) in America.

“Jenni is a force to be reckoned with!” wrote in MissBeth. “She’s socially savvy, articulate, witty… I am VERY proud to call her one of my BTF’s…Best Twitter Friend.”

Others deserving of mention: KTVK Phoenix duo Carey Pena (6,584 followers) and Beverly Kidd (6,114), KIRO’s Julie Francavilla (5,351), and WCCO Minneapolis’ Jason DeRusha (5,365), while WTMJ Milwaukee’s Susan Kim has a whopping 18,100 tweets.

“After all the coverage of national people on Twitter, it’s awesome to read about some local people!” DeRusha wrote. “That’s where the real interaction is happening.”
Michael Malone

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