WLNE ABC 6 studios in Providence. (WPRI/Ted Nesi)
Updated: Friday, 01 Oct 2010, 3:28 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 01 Oct 2010, 2:21 PM EDT
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - A New York media brokerage firm has been hired to sell WLNE-TV ABC 6, which filed for the state's version of bankruptcy protection in July.
CobbCorp LLC said Thursday it has been "exclusively retained" to sell ABC 6 and its half-ownership of Newschannel 5, a cable channel carried by Cox Communications that airs some WLNE content.
CobbCorp was hired to broker the sale by WLNE's receiver, attorney Matthew McGowan of the Providence law firm Salter McGowan Sylvia & Leonard. He has been overseeing the station since it filed for receivership in July.
Separately, WRNI reported that B.J. Finnell, who has been WLNE's news director since 2008, left the station on Thursday to take a job with a Boston-based public relations firm.
Global Broadcasting of Southern New England LLC spent $14 million to buy WLNE in 2007 from a California company, Freedom Communications Inc., that had owned the station since 1983.
Kevin O'Brien, who controls Global Broadcasting, said in a July court filing the station was forced to file for receivership because it was "insolvent and unable to meet its obligations as they come due."'
Former Providence Mayor Joseph Paolino and technology entrepreneur Angus Davis are among the local individuals who have at least explored the possibility of purchasing WLNE, The Providence Journal reported last month.
(WPRI-TV is owned by Providence-based LIN Media, while WJAR-TV is owned by Virginia-based Media General Inc.)
CobbCorp has worked on station sales in the Providence market before. In 2007, the firm advised Cerberus Capital Management in its $185 million purchase of four CBS Corp. stations including local channel WLWC-TV The CW 28.
WLNE’s history dates back to 1963, when it went on the air as WTEV-TV and an ABC affiliate. It was a CBS affiliate from 1977 until 1995, when it switched back to ABC. Its call letters changed from WTEV to WLNE in 1980.
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