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Published: Friday, 8/1/2008

Ch. 24 extends programming to Buckeye through the Olympics


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

The Barrington Broadcasting-owned station is in negotiations with Buckeye and faced a midnight deadline to reach an agreement on 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 part of the $262 million deal nearly two years ago in which Barrington Broadcasting of Hoffman Estates, Ill., acquired a dozen television stations from Raycom Media Ind.

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

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

The company reported a net loss of $7.3 million in the first three months of 2008 and shared concerns that it 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 Corp., which at its peak owned 28 stations.

According to federal court filings, Benedek filed for bankrupty in 2002 and sold off its stations. 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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