"We are persuaded that KWBA is failing to such an extent that its ability to be a viable voice in the Tucson market is severely hampered," the FCC concluded, "placing it at a competitive disadvantage."
Ordinarily, FCC rules would not allow the company to own both ABC affiliate KGUN-TV and KWBA in Tucson because it would not leave eight independently owned broadcast-TV stations in the market. But it makes exceptions in the cases of stations in such financial trouble that the only other option might be the station going dark or further reducing its service to the public.
KWBA's owner, Tucson Communications, told the FCC it lost audience share when it lost the rights to Arizona Diamondbacks Major League Baseball games to another station in the market. The broadcaster also demonstrated operating losses for three years running, adding that it had had to defer payments on various debts to stay afloat.
The FCC also said the station's chief financial officer asserted that there was "no hope" of the situation getting better without the efficiencies of joint operation with the Journal station.
Journal pledged to launch a 30-minute daily newscast -- KWBA has not done news since 2005 -- to boost the station's community outreach efforts and more.