O'Brien Appealing WLNE Sale

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Former WLNE Providence owner Kevin O’Brien is appealing Citadel Communications’ acquisition of the station, according to a story on market rival WPRI’s site. Citadel agreed to buy the station out of receivership for $5.8 million on March 22, and O’Brien protested the price of the deal immediately, claiming the ABC affiliate had been sold for a song.

The deal is awaiting FCC approval.

Writes WPRI’s Ted Nesi:

At the time, Associate Justice Michael Silverstein denied an objection by O’Brien, who argued its court-appointed receiver Matthew McGowan was not seeking nearly enough money in exchange for the station. He said WLNE earned a profit in 2010, and argued that its positive cash flow should allow the receiver to continue operating the station while seeking more for it.

O’Brien paid $14 million for the station in 2007.  Nesi says O’Brien’s attorney has informed Rhode Island Supreme Court that he will appeal the sale.

Citadel’s principal, Phil Lombard, acknowledged O’Brien’s hurt feelings in an interview with B&C in March.

“I can understand that Kevin is pretty hurt by all this,” Lombardo said, adding that the bidding process was “abundantly fair.”

After a visit to the station in late March, Lombardo and his Citadel crew set about remaking the station, including replacing GM Steve Doerr with WFXT Boston sales manager Chris Tzianabos.