• WVNY-Channel 22 to move to Colchester
    The Associated Press
    The Associated Press | August 21,2005
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    SOUTH BURLINGTON — The two partner companies that bought WVNY-Channel 22 in May are looking at moving the station to Colchester, an official with one of the companies says.

    That possible move to the offices of WFFF-Channel 44 could make for greater efficiency, since the Colchester-based Fox affiliate is owned by a corporate sibling of one of the companies that bought WVNY.

    "That would be the ultimate plan," Ian Guthrie, chief financial officer of St. Louis-based Smith Media, said of plans to consolidate operations. "I don't know that there's a timeline on that."

    California-based Lambert Broadcasting of Burlington LLC bought WVNY's license for $1.3 million from C-22 FCC Licensee Subsidiary LLC. Smith Media Burlington LLC paid $8.9 million for most of the assets of WVNY, including office and computer equipment and vehicles, Guthrie said.

    Smith Media handles sales and administrative functions of the station. Lambert is responsible for technical operations and programming. Possible changes include moving WVNY's operation in South Burlington into the Colchester offices of WFFF-Channel 44, the Fox affiliate. WFFF is owned by Smith Media LCC, the parent company of Smith Media Burlington.

    No major programming changes are planned at the station in the immediate future, but the company is weighing all options including starting a new news operation to replace the one the previous owners shut down in 2003, Guthrie said.

    The ABC station's previous owner, Straightline Communications of Connecticut, invested almost $2 million in a local newscast only to pull the plug after four years.

    The station never managed more than a single-digit share of the market against local stations WCAX-Channel 3 in Burlington and WPTZ-Channel 5 in Plattsburgh, N.Y. Guthrie said Lambert saw opportunity in WVNY as an "under-managed" station and approached Smith Media about a partnership.

    "We saw a distressed television station. They'd canceled the news. That's a sure sign that something is awry. We felt we could come in partnership with Lambert, and Lambert thought they could come in partnership with us and improve the operation."
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