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Published: Thursday, 7/31/2008

WNWO-TV to continue providing programing on Buckeye at least through Olympics

BLADE STAFF

WNWO-TV Channel 24 will continue providing programming to Buckeye CableSystem through at least Aug. 24, the NBC affiliate announced Thursday.

The Barrington Broadcasting-owned station is in negotiations with Buckeye and faced a midnight deadline to reach an agreement on a new contract over retransmission rights to 150,000 local cable subscribers.

"As a courtesy to Buckeye subscribers and as a demonstration of good faith in our negotiations, NBC24 will extend retransmission consent through the end of the Summer Olympic Games, Sunday, Aug. 24, to allow all viewers to enjoy this historic event," WNWO management said in a statement.

At the heart of the negotiations is the station s position on how much Buckeye should pay it to broadcast the NBC affiliate s signal.

Buckeye CableSystem is owned by Block Communications, Inc., parent company of The Blade.

WNWO was included in a sale nearly two years ago in which Barrington Broadcasting of Hoffman Estates, Ill., agreed to a $262 million deal with Raycom Media Inc. to purchase a dozen television stations across the country.

Barrington owns 21 television stations in 15 markets including Ohio, Michigan, Texas, New York, and South Carolina.

Barrington, in its financial statements to the Security and Exchange Commission that is posted on the company s Web site, acknowledged that if the company is unable to reach agreements with cable companies to carry the signals of its stations, "we could lose revenues and audience shares."

Barrington reported a net loss of $7.3 million in the first three months of 2008, and shared concerns that the company may breach its loan obligations before the end of the year.

K. James Yager, the CEO of Barrington, previously served as president and chief operating officer of Benedek Broadcasting Corporation, which at its peak owned 28 stations.

According to federal court filings, Benedek filed for bankrupty in 2002 and sold off its stations. Mr. Yager, along with other senior Benedek staff, co-founded Barrington in May, 2003, with the support of a private equity firm, the Pilot Group.



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