The collapse of the WB has torpedoed Granite Broadcasting’s deal to sell its two WB stations.
In September, AM Media, a unit of Washington-based private equity firm Acon Investments, agreed to pay $180 million for Granite’s WB stations, WDWB Detroit and KBWB San Francisco.
Neither station has a chance of getting an affiliation with The CW, the network being created out of the ashes of WB and UPN. CBS – which will be Time Warner’s partner in The CW – owns UPN stations in San Francisco and Detroit and will get the CW affiliations there.
It’s not clear what the financial damage from losing a WB affiliation may be, but the uncertainty was enough to back AM Media off the deal.
Granite CEO Don Cornwell says that, technically, the sale agreement remains in place, but Granite has been freed to shop the stations to others.
"They are clearly having a hard time deciding whether they should proceed," Cornwell says.
He would not say if AM Media attempted to negotiate a lower price or is balking at completing the deal at all. But Cornwell says that, as soon as the creation of the CW was announced, he began receiving other inquiries about the stations from players who weren’t interested in WB stations. "We need to be able to respond to people," Cornwell says.
He says he still expects to sell the stations but is also prepared to operate them as independents.