TV vets form consult firm

Company opens doors at pivotal time for station biz

Syndie vet Barry Thurston, who stepped down from Columbia TriStar TV Distribution’s prexy post nearly a year ago, has struck a partnership with three TV execs from the former Spartan Communications station group to form a company called Associated Media Partners.

The firm will specialize in advising and consulting TV stations in their brokerage, appraisal and management.

Move comes at a pivotal time in the TV station biz, as several federal ownership regulation changes are being considered. That’s one of the reasons Thurston, who spent many years in the station biz before going into syndication, said he’s up for the move.

“As we’re going through a transition period in this business, I believe there will be a lot of changing hands and restructuring of various broadcast organizations,” said Thurston, who has long been known for his expert timing in selling such syndie shows as the off-network run of “Seinfeld.”

Station rep Bill Carroll of Katz agreed that now is a prime time for setting up such a business.

“This is obviously a potentially optimum time to be doing station brokerage,” Carroll said, pointing out that the possibility that the FCC will raise or lift the current 35% cap on station ownership could make for an extremely active station-swapping market.

Thurston is teaming with former Spartan Communications execs Nick Evans, Jack West and Steve Castellaw to form Associated Media Partners.

While Evans, West and Castellaw are based in the Atlanta area, Thurston will continue to be West Coast based.

Since Thurston left Columbia last summer, he also established Los Angeles-based the Thurston Group, through which he’s kept his hand in the programming world.

“As I’ve been looking around in the business for the last six months or so, part of the criteria for me has been to find something that would be a challenge and would lead to a very strong business,” Thurston said. “I also wanted to be working with people I enjoy. Not only do I enjoy these people I’m partnering with, but the station people too. This is exciting because I get to work with them, and I’m not selling them anything.”