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KGMB, KHNL, KFVE and KHON linked in sale

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The owner of Hawaii TV stations KGMB and KHNL has made a new arrangement to keep operating a third local station, KFVE, in order to complete its pending sale to a Georgia-based media company.

Raycom Media Inc., which broadcasts Hawaii News Now on all three stations, will maintain its local programming for KFVE and keep the station’s call letters. But KFVE’s broadcast license, which includes KGMV serving Wailuku and KGMD serving Hilo, are being sold along with the station’s transmission towers to the owner of rival local TV station KHON.

KGMB and KHNL General Manager Rick Blangiardi said running KFVE, including delivery of Hawaii News Now and other local programming under Raycom, will continue.

“For the viewer at home, this should be a seamless transition,” he said.

KFVE’s position on cable TV channels will not change, according to Blangiardi, though there will be some moves on digital channels, such as KFVE’s new Bounce TV Network moving to digital channel 5.4. Also, KFVE will no longer be a MyNetwork affiliate. Blangiardi said KGMB and KHNL will broadcast KFVE programming using KGMB/KHNL equipment.

Raycom has long helped operate but does not own KFVE. The company uses a “shared services agreement” to provide content, studio space, equipment and other things to the owner of KFVE in return for a fee.

KFVE’s owner has changed over the last decade and currently is Hawaii Five Subsidiary LLC, which is managed by the chief financial officer of New York-based investment firm PennantPark.

Hawaii Five is selling its KFVE license and transmission towers to KHON’s Texas-based owner, Nexstar Media Group Inc. On Tuesday, KHON announced that the acquisition allows Nexstar to expand in Hawaii and that the assets being bought would “further complement (KHON’s) existing programming and marketing solutions and services.”

KHON and Nexstar representatives could not be reached Friday to provide more detail.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed by Nexstar.

The sale is being made to allow Raycom, which is based in Alabama, to complete its own $3.65 billion sale to Georgia-based Gray Television Inc. That deal was announced in June, and stands to create the nation’s third-largest TV group with 142 television stations in 92 markets, reaching 24 percent of the nation’s TV households. As part of the deal, Gray has arranged to sell TV stations in nine mainland markets where it and Raycom both own stations.

In Hawaii the setup with KFVE also became an issue for the Gray-Raycom transaction.

The Media Council Hawaii has long complained that Raycom’s 2009 combination of three stations reduced diverse views and diminished local news coverage.

Chris Conybeare, the organization’s president, said it appears that Raycom is trying to address the issue of controlling three major stations in a single market, though he’s not sure how KFVE assets being sold change anything.

“It’s a shell game, and now basically we’re moving the shells around,” he said.

Gray’s purchase of Raycom is projected to close by the end of the year pending regulatory approvals.

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