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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 23, 2006

KGMB sale may be in works

By Rick Daysog
Advertiser Staff Writer

Clear Channel Communication Inc. and several local investment groups have expressed interest in acquiring local television station KGMB, a person familiar with the discussions said.

Texas-based Clear Channel, which operates seven radio stations in Hawai'i, had no comment and the company's local general manager Chuck Cotton said he was not aware of any talks by the company to acquire KGMB.

But the chairman of the company's television division, William Moll, made inquires about the local CBS affiliate, according to the person who requested anonymity since the deal is still pending.

Moll was in town this month to give a speech before the Hawaii Association of Broadcasters Inc.

Several local investors, who were not named, also have made inquiries about purchasing KGMB, said the person.

Any deal would include KGMB's 41,000-square-foot offices on Kapi'olani Boulevard, which could fetch anywhere between $12 million and $16 million in today's heated real estate market.

Jodi Wright, spokeswoman for Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications Corp., which sold sister station KHON-TV to California-based Montecito Broadcast Group in January, also had no immediate comment.

Emmis' Chief Executive Officer Jeff Smulyan told investors during a conference call last month that Emmis expects to sell its remaining television stations KGMB and WVUE in New Orleans by the end of the year.

"In New Orleans and in Hawai'i, we are in discussions but I would not say in final stages there," Smulyan said.

"A deal is never done until it's done but we're certainly moving along on a couple of them."

Federal laws governing the broadcasting industry don't bar a radio station owner such as Clear Channel from owning a television station in the same market, said Beverly Keever, a journalism professor at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa.

Emmis received much criticism for owning both KGMB and KHON television stations. That criticism came from such local media watchers as Keever, who was concerned that Emmis' dual ownership could lead to an erosion of the stations' news products.

Federal rules bar a company from owning two television stations in the same market, but Emmis was allowed to own and operate both stations under a waiver granted by the Federal Communications Commission.

Keever said she's encouraged by the interest from investor groups from Hawai'i, who would bring a more local perspective to the news. Since 1993, all major local media companies have been controlled by companies with headquarters outside the state, she said. "It's easy to get on the Internet to get the worldwide and national news, but nobody is writing about Maui or Kaua'i ... but us," she said.

Clear Channel, which owns KSSK and KHVH radio stations in Hawai'i, owns or operates 40 television stations nationwide. Besides KGMB and WVUE, Emmis owns more than 20 radio stations nationwide.

Reach Rick Daysog at rdaysog@honoluluadvertiser.com.