Friday, May 13, 2005

KTKA sold, KSNT next

Lawrence company pays $6.2 million for ABC affiliate
By Michael Hooper
The Capital-Journal

A company affiliated with The Lawrence Journal-World has agreed to purchase KTKA-TV, Channel 49, for $6.2 million, according to an application and purchase agreement accepted Monday by the Federal Communications Commission.

Free State Communications LLC has agreed to buy the television station and building, 2121 S.W. Chelsea, from Northeast Kansas Broadcast Services Inc., Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. Free State Communications lists its address as 609 New Hampshire, Lawrence, which is the address of The Journal-World.
e sale because it was pending. Free State Communications lists Gage as its resident agent, according to the Kansas secretary of state's Web site. The 50-page sale agreement was signed on behalf of Free State Communications by Patrick Knorr, general manager of Sunflower Broadband, the World Co.'s Internet service provider.

Berl Brechner, president of Northeast Kansas Broadcast Services Inc., said the sale is pending a 30-day comment period, with final approval scheduled for this summer.

Meanwhile, Emmis Communications, owner of KSNT-TV, Channel 27, in Topeka, announced Tuesday it has put its television assets up for sale.

Emmis, of Indianapolis, owns 16 television stations, including KSNW-TV NBC 3 in Wichita.

"Our decision to explore strategic alternatives for our television assets comes from our ongoing dedication to lowering our debt and putting us in a better position for growth," said Jeffrey Smulyan, chief executive officer, president and chairman of Emmis.

Earlier this year, Brechner sold radio station KTPK-FM/Topeka for $5.7 million to JMJ Broadcasting Co. KTPK is located in the KTKA-TV building.

Brechner said he was selling the properties for "family and personal reasons."

"It's time for us to make these changes," he said.

Brian Byrnes, vice president with Media Venture Partners, the broker in the deal, said the World Co. was acquiring a good station in a well-equipped building.

"It's a fine station," Byrnes said. "The Brechner family did a great job over the years. The World Co. will do a great job, too.

"It's a terrific facility. It's well equipped. It's got good people, and I know the World Co. has good people. It will be an excellent marriage."

Ann Brill, dean of the journalism school at The University of Kansas, said Dolph C. Simons, chairman of the World Co., has a history of putting money back into properties and making them better. The World's convergence of online, television and print properties has become a model for other media all over the world, she said.

"They've been winning awards and setting trends," she said. "It will be fascinating to watch what they do with this station. It's not going to be business as usual. I expect innovation and overall good for the audience."

KTKA-TV, the ABC affiliate, dropped its local news team about three years ago. The station went on the air in 1983 as KLDH-TV. After Brechner bought the station in 1986, it was given new call letters, KTKA-TV.

KTKA-TV has about 30 employees, according to an article by The Journal-World.

Dolph Simons, grandson of Journal-World founder W.C. Simons, has been editor and publisher of the newspaper since 1962.

The World Co. also owns newspapers in Tonganoxie, Baldwin City, Basehor, Bonner Springs, Eudora, Lansing, Shawnee and DeSoto. A related enterprise created by The World Co., WorldWest LLC, owns newspapers in Payson, Ariz., and Steamboat Springs and Craig, Colo.

The company also owns the cable television franchise for Lawrence and activated service to customers in December 1971. More than 80 percent of Lawrence's households receive cable television on Sunflower Broadband Channel 6. Sunflower also offers cable television service in Douglas County, Eudora, Tonganoxie, Basehor and Piper.

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