Granite Doubles Up with Malara

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Granite Broadcasting Corp. was busy Friday. The owner of eight TV stations was still planning to be the owner of eight stations, but only after selling ABC affiliate WPTA Fort Wayne, Ind., to Malara Broadcasting for $45.9 million, then turning around and buying NBC affiliate WISE-TV there from New Vision Television for $44.2 million, all subject to Federal Communications Commission approval, of course.

Given the relative strengths of the ABC and NBC networks, Granite's trade of an ABC for an NBC, and making $1.7 million in the bargain, might sound like a steal, but a number of stations outperform their networks, as is the case here. WPTA is the top biller in the market, according to BIA. WISE-TV is second.

But Granite won't be saying goodbye to WPTA entirely. In fact, as part of the deal, Granite will enter a strategic partnership with Malara to provide various services including ad sales, promotion and some administration to WPTA, as well as to Malara's KDLH Duluth-Superior, Wis., where Granite owns KBJR.

It was unclear whether those services would include programming as well. The move gives Granite what amounts to quasi-duopolies in those markets.

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