Written by: Tom Rieland
Date: June 13, 2019
With the news of the Wolfe family in Columbus selling its broadcast stations, including WBNS-TV, all of the major local TV stations except WOSU TV are now owned by large corporate enterprises with headquarters far from this city.
WBNS, pending approval from the FCC, will be owned by TEGNA, which owns 49 other television stations.
Regarding the other major commercial stations: WSYX – Channel 6 (ABC) is owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, WTTE – Channel 28 (FOX) is owned by Cunningham Broadcasting and Nexstar Media runs WCMH-Channel 4 (NBC). And we should mention the Columbus Dispatch is just one of over 140 daily newspapers now owned by Gatehouse Media.
I understand some of the efficiencies that can be put into place through ownership of masses of television operation, such as centralized master control, purchasing, accounting and shared talent, but ultimately this also means corporate rather than locally informed decisions will rule the day.
As former Dispatch reporter Tim Feran noted in our coverage of the sale of Channel 10, “TEGNA is listed on Wall Street. And Wall Street is interested in ‘what have you done for me lately?’ Not whether or not you look good in the local community.”
As in many other communities, that leaves this station, WOSU TV (PBS), the only locally owned and operating television station in Columbus.
With that comes the responsibility to cover central Ohio with news, arts, cultural and educational programming even more comprehensively than we do today. To accomplish that, as a noncommercial, nonprofit station, we must turn to the public for assistance or find other means.
As you may know, WOSU is building a new headquarters and studios as part of the 15th and High Street district development. The facilities, including a community space and media lab, will allow expanded coverage of our region.
This, at a time, when local news coverage is either on the decline or at great risk. I know our team looks forward to the challenge.
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