This was posted on Thursday, February 23, 2017 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Meredith Corp. has purchased the broadcast assets of Peachtree TV (WPCH-TV) in Atlanta from Turner Broadcasting System, part of Time Warner, which is being acquired by AT&T.
The dollar amount was not announced but Meredith’s press release said it will have “no material impact on Meredith’s fiscal 2017 financial results.” Deadline.com, with no attribution, said Meredith paid $70 million.
The deal is expected to close by June 30.
This move appears to be a way to make it easier for the merger to happen with less regulatory review. (WPCH-TV is Time Warner’s only FCC-regulated broadcast station.)
Roger Entner, an anealyst at Recon Analytics LLC, told Bloomberg BNA last fall that it was possible Time Warner would sell the station to a third party, even if it has to do so for pennies on the dollar.
“Whatever that station is worth is immaterial in relation to the volume [of the deal],” said Entner. “Their toilet paper bill is probably more than what that station is worth.”
Peachtree TV is an odd vestige linked to the TBS SuperStation Ted Turner created in 1976 after buying the station in 1970. Originally called WTCG, that particular network was one of the first to use satellites to transmit nationwide. (More history here and here.)
Turner purchased the Atlanta Braves in 1976 and began airing the games, as well as wrestling, old movies and repeats of shows such as “Green Acres” and “The Andy Griffith Show.” It was a tough road but by 1981, the network was profitable and helped sustain the nascent Cable News Network. The network nationwide helped propel the Braves to become “America’s team.”
Over the years TBS aired thousands of movies, cartoons, classic sitcoms and dramas and wrestling matches galore. After Time Warner purchased Turner, TBS began shifting to a more traditional cable network model, dropping cartoons and airing fewer Braves games. In 2003, the network shifted entirely to comedies such as “Friends,” “Home Improvement” and “Seinfeld,” dropping dramas such as “Little House on the Prairie.” The new slogan: “Very Funny.”
The network in the 2000s tried some original programming such as reality TV (“Outback Jack,” “The Real Gilligan’s Island”) and sitcoms (“My Boys,” “10 Items or Less”), only hitting a ratings jackpot with Tyler Perry comedies such as “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne.”
In 2007, TBS was split into two entities: the national TBS cable network and Peachtree TV (WPCH-TV) as the metro Atlanta network.
The Atlanta Braves would only air on Peachtree TV while TBS began showing other Major League Baseball games. By 2014, the Braves moved to Fox Sports.
Since the split, TBS nabbed Conan O’Brien for a late night show, tried a range of comedies of middling quality (“The Bill Engvall Show,” “Glory Daze,” “Men at Work”) and found huge success running repeats of “The Big Bang Theory.” More recently, it hit a jackpot with “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” and received critical respect for edgier fare such as “The Detour,” “People of Earth” and “Angie Tribeca.”
In 2011, Turner handed off the day-to-day operations of Peachtree TV to Meredith Corp. in a lease agreement. Meredith also owns CBS46 (WGCL-TV) in Atlanta.
Peachtree TV nowadays runs a mix of judge shows (e.g. “Judge Faith,” “Hot Bench,” “Justice With Judge Mablean,” “Divorce Court”), dramas (“Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “Major Crimes”), the game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” sitcoms (e.g. “The King of Queens,” “Modern Family,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Seinfeld,” “The Middle,” “American Dad”), reality TV (“Pawn Stars”) and movies (e.g. “Pirates of the Carribean,” “Shark Tale,” “Collateral”) It also airs “Atlanta Eats” on weekends.
“We’ve worked closely with Meredith since 2011 and know they will be excellent stewards of WPCH-TV,” said Michael Marinello, SVP Communications for Turner, in a press conference.