Gray Television has acquired WAGT, the NBC affiliate in Augusta, Ga., from Schurz Communications. The FCC approved Gray’s purchase of Schurz last week and among the terms of that decision was the termination of a five-year-old joint share agreement between WAGT and WJBF, Media General’s ABC station.
Because Gray owns CBS affiliate WRDW — giving the company two of the top four stations in the market, violating FCC rules, once the acquisition went through — it had planned to offer WAGT's spectrum in the incentive auction. That led the FCC to require Gray to operate the station separately, away from any joint sales.
WAGT will stay on channel 26 with the same power level and network programming as before. The only difference will be the local newscasts, as WRDW said that WJBF has forbid the anchors and reporters who appear on WAGT’s newscasts from staying there after the sale. WRDW notified WJBF of the sale and likely conditions in mid-September, it said in a release, but “unfortunately, WJBF and its corporate owners refused to agree to a smooth transition of personnel.”
“We wish we could have continued the existing newscast on WAGT26,” said John Ray, WRDW general manager. “However, WJBF’s refusal to work out a smooth transition of personnel and contractual restrictions WJBF put in place for the WAGT26 news talent force us to create a new team for WAGT26. Until then, WAGT26 will simulcast a co-branded newscast from WRDW.”