KGMB-TV to be sold within a year
Station owner Emmis is "deep into discussions" about a potential sale, the company's chairman says
KGMB-TV's owner is "deep into discussions" about the possible sale of the Honolulu station and a sister station in New Orleans, according to Jeff Smulyan, chairman and chief executive of Indiana-based Emmis Communications Corp.
"We think we're fairly far along with two and three people in each New Orleans and Hawaii," Smulyan said yesterday during a second-quarter earnings call. He didn't name the parties.
"We feel that in the near term those transactions will both be done," he said.
The company predicts the sales will be completed in the next three to twelve months, according to a quarterly financial filing yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
"Maybe what's made us a little bit more bullish is there's been a remarkable performance in both Hawaii led by Rick Blangiardi and his staff, and New Orleans led by (the general manager) and her staff. They've just done an incredible job," Smulyan said.
Projected billing in New Orleans will exceed the calendar year before Hurricane Katrina, which Smulyan described as "one of the great turnaround stories of all time. He added, "I'm sure we're having our best year ever at KGMB."
Persistent talk on the street centers on Virginia-based Gannett Co. Inc. as a potential buyer of KGMB, despite a federal ban on newspaper-television cross ownership. Mike Fisch, president and publisher of the Honolulu Advertiser, owned by Gannett, referred inquiries to the company's Virginia headquarters, where officials were not available.
Blangiardi, who has been on the mainland, was in flight yesterday and unavailable for comment.
Emmis retained the Blackstone Group, an investment firm, in May 2005 to explore options for its 16 television station. In September, affiliates of the Blackstone Group and a company now known as Montecito Broadcast Group LLC announced an agreement to buy KHON-TV in Honolulu and three mainland stations from Emmis for $259 million.
KGMB in Honolulu and WVUE-TV in New Orleans are Emmis' last stations remaining to be sold.