Layoffs are almost certain at WPWR(TV) Chicago, which Fox said Thursday that it
was buying for $425 million.
SG Cowen Securities Corp. media analyst Peter Mirsky said, "Second stations typically run
at 5 percent to 15 percent of the manpower of the primary station, with about 2
percent of the equipment."
Mirsky estimated that Fox is paying 15 times the station's 2002 cash flow of
about $28 million, which, he said, was in line with prices for large market TV
He estimated WPWR's profit margin at between 40 percent and 45 percent, which
will no doubt rise to 50 percent or greater under Fox management.
Fox will add a ninth duopoly to its station lineup with the acquisition of
WPWR-TV. Fox already owns WFLD-TV Chicago.
WPWR is owned by Newsweb Corp. Fred Eychaner is president, and Al DeVaney is
The acquisition is expected to close by year's end and would give Fox
duopolies in New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Dallas; Washington, D.C.; Houston;
Minneapolis; Phoenix; and Orlando, Fla.
Fox likes the duopoly strategy because it gives its station group more share
of ad dollars in the local market while the operating expenses of running the
second station is only an additional 15 percent or 20 percent beyond the expense
of running the first station.
Llachlan Murdoch, deputy chief operating officer of News Corp. and head of the station group,
said the company's existing duopolies are now generating increased profit
Mitch Stern, who has day-to-day responsibility for the stations, said the
acquisition was "important, particularly at a time when we are seeing a distinct
recovery in the advertising market. Having a second station in the Chicago
market will provide our local and national advertisers with an enormous audience
and an array of advertising choices."