Thursday, September 29, 2005

KOIN Sold - What's Next

KOIN TV is now the property of something called SJL Broadcast Management.

From the Emmis memo to employees:

The purchase covers KOIN-TV (Ch. 6, CBS affiliate) in Portland, Ore.; KHON-TV (Ch. 2, Fox affiliate) in Honolulu; KSNW-TV (Ch. 3, NBC affiliate) in Wichita, Kan.; and KSNT-TV (Ch. 27, NBC affiliate) in Topeka, Kan., and is subject to approval from the Federal Communications Commission and other regulatory authorities.

As far as I've been able to find out, the new owner has a number of small stations - there is no corporate website that I can find (which will fit right in with KOIN's anemic one). They have been in broadcasting for a long while, buying and selling stations (almost looking like a broker) in a number of markets like Buffalo and San Luis Obispo.

I see them in Lancaster, PA, Billings, MT, Johnstown, PA, Binghampton, NY and other small cities- not exactly powerhouse markets.

It's gotta be better than Emmis, insiders tell me, but there is a lot of worry. Will they have to carry the corporation, considering Portland is market 23. And what will the new owners make of the union situation awaiting them.

127 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and you're supposedly a journalist?

You neglected to mention that Blackstone Partners is fronting the $$$ for this deal.

For those unfamiliar with Blackstone, they've got more dough than the combined financial resources of Belo, Fisher, Meredith, and Tribune combined.

$34 Billion to be exact.

SLJ is a small company? So was KING Broadcasting in the 60's, 70's, and 80's...and KING was also a privately held company like SLJ.

The difference? Dorothy Bullitt didn't have the deep pockets of Blackstone Partners to turn to...SLJ does.

KOIN employees worried? What for? (seriously, I can't recall a bigger bunch of "glass-half-empty" people in my 20+ years in broadcasting).

Relax kiddies...this will be fun.

Thursday, September 29, 2005 1:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Thursday, September 29, 2005 1:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correction...SJL is the company name (Not SLJ)

But hey, so long as the check clears the bank...and it most assuredly will...I don't give a hoot about the name.

peace,out.

Thursday, September 29, 2005 1:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, cool...there's a racist, sexist, dipshit visiting this website.

Hey pal, methinks that you're a bit jealous of the $$$ being paid to Jeff & Kelley?

Not to worry, I'm sure that you won't work at hotdog-on-a-stick forever?!

Thursday, September 29, 2005 1:42:00 PM  
Blogger The Show said...

Time shall tell. If they're looking to make a profit (by flipping KOIN) they've got some work to do.

Thursday, September 29, 2005 1:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure the union "situation" (aka: sour employees) helped to scare off the better media companies.
1:35--Do you really think Blackstone is in the game to pour money from their deep pockets into KOIN? They're out to turn a profit on their investment (in short order) and to add to their big pot of money.
Hey Insider, doesn't an ethnic slur deserve to be deleted? Or is that crap allowed to stand unchallenged when directed at your arch enemies?

Thursday, September 29, 2005 2:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the Alta Communications website:
SJL Communications is a television broadcasting company formed by Alta Communications and George Lilly to acquire NBC affiliates in Santa Barbara, CA and Erie, PA. The Company sold its Santa Barbara station in 2002 to New Vision Group, and in early 2005 raised additional capital to refinance Alta out of the deal.

Thursday, September 29, 2005 3:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SJL is a creepy, small band of broadcasting pirates. That said, I don't think it could get any worse for KOIN'ers. Better? Eh. The goal is cash. If I get paid a large salary at KOIN and I can't justify it... I'd brush up the tape and resume. Good Luck.

Thursday, September 29, 2005 8:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are a lot of unknowns. The four stations in this group were purchased for $259M. Bidding reportedly went until the wee hours this morning, when other serious bidders grew nervous about the stratuspheric price. SJL won't be "flipping" KOIN or any of the other stations anytime soon, for a profit. It is possible that KOIN could be stripped out of the group and sold to a major player, but original estimates of KOIN's market value were extremely un-realistic.

The real question is whether SJL will put any significant capitol into the station, restore the depleted staff that Emmis trimmed to the bone, and make a serious run for the ratings. If not, then things will limp along as usual, until the next buyer comes along. There is a huge opportunity for growth in the market, which has been artifically squashed by the Belo sales philosophy, sell market share at any price, even if it isn't very profitable. That is a reality of the business of Portland television.

KOIN has several management positions open at the moment, including GM, News Director, and Assistant News Director. There could still be some other moves made internally that would create other openings. Now that new ownership is in sight, (a process that could take up to five months,) look for those positions to be filled soon.

It's an old saying, but very true--time will tell.

Thursday, September 29, 2005 8:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This has turnaround written all over it. Squeeze a lot here, and pump up a lot there, and pretty soon the cash flow will be improved enough to flip it and finance the other purchases.

Thursday, September 29, 2005 9:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Blackstone the company that owned Channel 22 when they were HSN as KBSP?

If not, I think the name is close to whoever owned the station before.

If so, I wonder if news will become something like: "The police went into the home, which looked similar to this one, that is selling for $400,000. Call Such and Such Realty at 971-555-1234. When inside, they found not only a meth lab, but also furniture similar to that sold at Joe Blow Furniture, 123 Main St., in downtown Oregon City, at 971-555-9876...."

Thursday, September 29, 2005 11:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You folks in Portland may wish to ask folks at WOWK in Huntington, WV what happened to them when Gateway Communications sold them to SJL.

Bunch of people left (or were canned). SJL purchased PVTV... err, ParkerVision TV, so SJL could nuke the technical staff. Worse, management had no clue. Bye, bye technical directors, any semblance of a quality newscast, and hello, bubblehead producers and various buttsmootchers. PVTV is an utter disaster. No station has moved up in ratings as a result of it. IIRC, they've all had lower ratings. This does not seem to bother management types.

WOWK became a distant third, after being flipped by SJL, and run by a Chairman who put the station on a Great Leap Forward.

Friday, September 30, 2005 7:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Insiders says "it's gotta be better than Emmis"????
The Emmis years are now your "good old days." Be careful what you wish for!

Friday, September 30, 2005 8:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MEDIAWEEK; 1/8/2001; Murphy, Feremy

Barely a month after firing more than 20 employees at two recently purchased TV stations, SJL Northeast LCC last week handed out pink slips to 10 additional employees. The company recently purchased three stations from Gateway Communications for $96 million.

Hardest hit in the firings is CBS affiliate WOWK-TV in Charleston, WVa. The new owners already fired 12 employees before the holidays, including general manager Ed Bolling and general sales manager John Leifheit. Now comes word that the new owners plan to move the station's studios to Huntington, W.Va., and fire an ...

Friday, September 30, 2005 8:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe now comcast will be able to rebroadcast their signal via hidef.

Friday, September 30, 2005 10:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to do this but I have to crush any illusion KOIN employees may have of a better life under SJL. I worked for them for two years in a small market and when they sold it-- they left the station much worse off. Only after every photographer filed a workmans comp claim did they grudgingly agree to get rid of our 3/4 field decks. That was in 2001. The station is STILL editing on to 3/4 inch. And when the staff behind the scenes decided to unionize, we had meeting after meeting where managers screamed at us about our disloyalty. Shockingly, the union passed. While management always treated me well, they did a lot of people wrong. And benefits were poor at best. Perhaps in the three years since I got my last SJL paycheck they've changed their ways-- but I doubt that very much. To my colleagues at KOIN, best of luck. Sincerely. You're going to need it.

Friday, September 30, 2005 12:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Puh-leeez people!

Blackstone (using SJL)just paid a huge price for KOIN (a third or fourth place station) in the 23rd market in the nation. You think they're stupid? (Hey, they've got more money than YOU)

Do you think that they're gonna "flip" the station anytime soon? Who's gonna buy it? Nobody is gonna pay more than SJL just paid...at least, not right now.

Instead, they're likely to pump some dough into the operation so that they can increase revenue...and yes, maybe sell it to somebody else at some point in the future.

Which brings me to another point...

Many of you seem to think that it's some sort of "sin" to buy a broadcast property, fix it up, and sell it for more than you paid for it. What's the problem with that?

Also, I'm sure that SJL has bought small TV stations and fired some employees, but does it occur to anyone that maybe those employees deserved to be fired?

Bottom line...broadcasting is like any other business.

It's all about the money...always has been, always will be.

Okay, now you can resume dumping on KOIN.

Friday, September 30, 2005 1:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this won't be a fixer-upper. SJL slashes and burns everywhere it goes. yes, it's possible to cut KOIN yet more. and no, it won't be a better station once they're done.
Blackstone's motives? you'll never know. and though they're big, that doesn't mean everything they do is smart or makes money. you may now resume corporate sycophancy.

Friday, September 30, 2005 2:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, the price paid wasn't huge. Gray paid 189-million for a single West Virginia station in a middling market(THAT was huge)... this price include Honolulu and two others!
Second, pumping money into an operation is NOT the only way to improve cash flow and flip for a profit. Based on their track record, the SJL way appears to be cutting costs.
And, yes, maybe some of the people they pink-slipped at previous stations "deserved to be fired." Think anyone at KOIN "deserves to be fired?"

Friday, September 30, 2005 3:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:37 and 3:45 posters...

Yeah, I'm sure that Blackstone and SJL bought KOIN to lose money and destroy the station.

Wow, you are SO smart...you've already figured out their secret plan!

Let's assume that you're both absolutely right. Let's say that SJL is the "anti-christ" and that they'll run the station into the ground and fire all the remaining employees.

Are you really that stupid? Or are you just bitter people that can't hold a job?

Basically, you've both got some sort of stick up your you-know-what and have this desire to spread doom and gloom.

Whatever.

By the way, one of you asked if there was anybody at KOIN that "deserved" to be fired? Well, if either of you worked at KOIN, I'd nominate both of you to get "whacked" the minute SJL takes ownership of the joint.

Have a nice weekend...

Friday, September 30, 2005 5:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody said SJL was the anti-Christ or that they want to lose money... quite the opposite. The concern is how they intend to make their profit.
Of course the hope is that they will build KOIN up, but the painful reality is that it's faster and easier to cut costs and jack up cash flow, than to turn the ratings around in the face of so many competing factors.
This company has a history of cutting to shape up an operation. Stating that fact is not "doom and gloom" but merely putting out a realistic warning that should spur people to prepare their resume tapes and start networking for an emergency landing.
Back at ya with the sincere wish for a wonderful weekend.

Friday, September 30, 2005 8:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there an apocalypse coming or something? People are so fricking negative about everything in TV. I hope all you people that are complaining about how bad things are and how worse off KOIN will be get fired. You deserve it. Go home and drown in your sorrows for being such pathetic losers.

Saturday, October 01, 2005 10:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This will be a good time for KATU to really push for viewers as KOIN tries yet another strategy.

Saturday, October 01, 2005 9:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look at the way SJL runs its stations and draw your own conclusions. Here's betting a 10 to 15 percent cut once the FCC approves. Often they drop the hammer right before the holidays! (And nope, i won't be one, just did a little homework.)

Saturday, October 01, 2005 9:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in media but not television. Here's what mystifies me. It seems like every TV person who posts here complains about how much the industry sucks, be it the owners, the managers, the workload, the schedule, and so on. Several posters, trolls mainly, have questioned why sane people would keep working under such unpleasant conditions. I'm no troll, but I'm starting to wonder the same thing.

Sunday, October 02, 2005 11:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some very good and insightful comments here.

For many years KOIN TV has been plagued with far too many crybaby employees that bitch about virtually everything.

Long time KOIN folks think that all their problems are somebody else's fault (Emmis, Lippoff, Salamone, etc...) there is no sense of "what could I do to make things better"

Interestingly, a few years ago KOIN's sales department conducted a systematic purge of the underperforming and lackluster salespeople. Management dumped the crummy (and whiny) salespeople and replaced 'em with hard-charging fresh faces.

Result? KOIN's sales staff outperforms their competition on a monthly basis (go compare KOIN's local news ratings with their share of the local ad revenue in the market...it's truly amazing what they've done)

My point? KOIN's new salespeople don't complain about how bad things are (I'm sure they'd like to be able to have KGW-sized news ratings to sell) instead, they simply go out and do a killer job.

In other words, maybe a few people in KOIN's newsroom (and that's where the trouble really is) need a good swift kick in the ass.

Call it "attitude adjustment".

...and remember, it doesn't matter if you have union representation, if you suck at your job they can still fire your ass. Don't think otherwise!

SJL/Blackstone is no better or worse than any other owner. They want to make a buck...and they'll get rid of crappy people.

Hint to KOIN newsfolk: shut up, word hard, and if you think you need to work on your resume'...you're probably right?!

Monday, October 03, 2005 8:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I'm not sure if this is a sign of things to come, but their longtime helicopter pilot Warren is done as of today.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 5:31:00 PM  
Anonymous 2524212 said...

I have seen this company at work in the Johnstown/Altoona, Pennsylvania market (DMA #98). In the late 1990s, Gateway Communications sold WTAJ in Altoona to SJL (the company that just bought KOIN).

I never worked there. But here is what I know:

1) The News set and graphics haven't changed in a decade, and folks at the station say the corporate powers-that-be won't give the station any money for a "look" upgrade. The message from SJL corporate is that there won't be enough "return" on the investment towards a look upgrade.

2) ParkerVision was brought in pretty quickly after the sale... and most of the News Production staff was shown the door. Now, only very simple shows make air... and ownership is happy with the simple and plain shows because simple is cheap. Mistakes are many (but they're getting fewer)... and it's generally accepted the overall cost savings are worth the mistakes.

I have no idea what SJL plans for KOIN. They may turn over a new leaf and decide to play ball in Portland. But based on what I've seen of SJL, winning is far secondary to low cost.

There are believers in the "You-have-to-spend-money-to-make-money" model... and SJL doesn't appear to be among those believers.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 8:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey 8:41pm...

So, what do you know about Blackstone? I'm guessing probably not very much.

Folks, here's the thing...if you think that SJL will make things worse at KOIN, then quit TALKING about it and DO something about it.

Polish your resume' and get the hell out of KOIN.

Yes, I know...Lee Enterprises was so WONDERFUL...well, guess what? Lee Enterprises is gone and they ain't coming back.

There's nothing you can do about KOIN's ownership situation...it's outta your hands. Your only option is to either shut-up and do the best job you possibly can (which may not be good enough for your new employer) or pack up your stuff and go find a new gig.

Don't like those options? Sorry, that's all you've got.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005 10:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Good luck! said...

I'm reading about the whole union movement at KOIN, those that approved it will look like geniuses when SJL comes in. Goodbye 401k, hello expensive health insurance. The anchors and reporters will be sorry they voted it down. Have fun paying a lot more for your health plan and not having a 401k to save up for the future. Of course, if the bottomline is a big a deal to SJL as it usually is, you might not have to worry about that. Just hope your resume tape is updated and some other station has an opening.

Thursday, October 06, 2005 10:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:41am...are you aware how stupid you sound?

"Of course, if the bottom line is a big deal to SJL as it usually is"

Where the hell do YOU work? What broadcast company doesn't care about the bottom line?

The union? Hey, Einstein...go ask the people that voted for a union over at KOIN how the negotiations are going? (they'll tell you that they aren't happening at all)

In the end, NABET & AFTRA will be powerless to get anything done (except collect dues from their new members)...and the new owners will still be able to fire any crappy employees at KOIN that they want.

...but yes, those crappy employees should indeed update their resume tapes!

Thursday, October 06, 2005 1:58:00 PM  
Blogger The Show said...

You guys don't get it. SJL Broadcasting's history suggests it's like a ticket scalper. Only it buys TV stations and turns around sells them for more. KOIN is already stripped, the only thing left would be to purge the higher salaries, promote people on the totem pole, and bring in cheaper labor. As for the union, they can fire all they want, but if there's an agreement there, you still have to pay people and give them benefits. An update resume and tape wouldn't hurt...

Friday, October 07, 2005 8:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:24...it's YOU that doesn't get it.

Nobody pays in excess of $100 million dollars for a TV station in the nation's 23rd largest market just so that they can turn it into a piece of shit.

KOIN is quite "lean & mean" already thank you. If anything, SJL will likely make improvements on the place (ie; spend money) so that it'll get better ratings and thus be worth more in the future.

Will they sell it someday? Of course...just like Fisher wants to sell KATU, and Providence Journal flipped KGW to Belo. This is not a new concept, don't act as if it is.

Interestingly, people like you are hellbent on spreading this negative "vibe" on KOIN. Yes, we've already heard how you "know" everything about SJL and what's gonna happen at KOIN.

Wow, it must be difficult to be so smart and clarvoyant?!

whatever.

Tell you what pal, since you're so smart...why don't you pony up some cash and buy your own TV station?!

In the meantime, shut up and go back to editing copy.

Friday, October 07, 2005 1:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blah, blah, blah.. let's see, 4 stations at $64.25 million a pop.. one of them in a top 25 market.. not bad.

Friday, October 07, 2005 10:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, smart guy...they didn't pay $128 million for Topeka & Wichita TV stations...try about 1/3 that amount.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sandy:

Yes, we know you're reading this.

Great meeting today. Thanks for all the information and insight. No, we realize that you probably can't share a ton of information at this point...but what you DID say was very helpful and informative. Can we make one suggestion?...make John Tamerlano your GM. Great guy, straight shooter, and knows what needs to be done. You won't be sorry. Neither will we.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005 4:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Word is that SJL made a good first impression, and that the COO actually has Oregon roots.
Maybe they won't be the KOIN corporate raiders after all.
The transition from Emmis should be done right after the first of the year.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005 7:34:00 PM  
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too bad, because optimism is such a nice trait. best of luck to all you KOIN'ers, you're truly going to need it.

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