NBC gains Hartford O&O in Viacom swap

NEW YORK — NBC will gain a new O&O station in Hartford, Conn., in a swap with Viacom’s Paramount Station Group, which in turn will get two small stations operated under local marketing agreements that will be used to bolster its 50%-owned UPN weblet.

And in a separate deal, Par will use proceeds from NBC to acquire KPWB Sacramento from Pappas Telecasting, which eventually also will convert from WB to UPN. Meanwhile, Acme Broadcasting, owned by WB topper Jamie Kellner, is expected to buy WB affil KPLR St. Louis from Koplar Communications in a $135 million deal.

In the Hartford swap, NBC will pay cash and contribute WWHO Chillicothe, Ohio, and WLWC New Bedford, R.I., to Viacom in exchange for WVIT Hartford, another UHF station in the 27th largest TV market.

The two smaller stations, now WB affiliates jointly managed with larger NBC outlets in Columbus and Providence, will become UPN affils once existing affiliation agreements expire.

Together, the three stations moving to Par will add 2.6 coverage points to UPN’s distribution, enabling it to reach 90.6% of U.S. households. The twin deals “reinforce our long-range goals of ongoing growth for the Paramount Station Group and continued expansion of UPN’s strong distribution base,” said Paramount Television Group chairman Kerry McCluggage. They’ll also help UPN — 50% owned by Viacom — recover ground lost to the WB, which paid Sinclair Broadcasting $84 million to switch five of its stations from UPN to WB effective next January.

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