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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 11, 2010

TV news merger yields $252K for K5 operators

BY Rick Daysog
Advertiser Staff Writer

The newsroom merger between three of Hawai'i's five largest television stations is paying dividends for the operators of K5 television station.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Virginia-based MCG Capital said it received $252,000 in income last year from K5.

The results came after KGMB9 owner MCG swapped the call letters of KGMB9 with K5 last year and merged KGMB's newsroom with that of KHNL, in a move that resulted in the loss of 68 jobs.

Critics said the results come at the expense of people who lost their jobs.

"It certainly looks like people are being enriched by a lot of talented folks in our community who have been laid off," said Chris Conybeare, president of Media Council Hawaii, which has asked the Federal Communications Commission to halt the deal.

Financial figures were not available for KHNL, which is owned by privately held Raycom Media Inc. of Alabama.

John Fink, K5's general manager, would not comment.

MCG and Raycom have said that the deal, known as a shared services agreement, was needed to prevent one or more of the stations from closing in the wake of a severe downturn in the local advertising market.

During the past year, annual television advertising revenues in Hawai'i have plunged by about $20 million, or about 30 percent, they said.

The newsroom merger, or shared services agreement, kicked off on Oct. 26 with the launch of the Hawaii News Now programs on all three stations.

According to Raycom, the deal created the state's largest news operation and more news coverage for local viewers.

Opponents such as the Media Council say the deal is hurting consumers and violates federal laws barring the multiple ownership of television stations in a single market.