By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
CONCORD — WBIN-TV failed to break WMUR-TV's monopoly on New Hampshire's television market, but Bill Binnie, the president of Binnie Media, reaped a tenfold return on his investment of $9 million by selling his company's broadcast rights to Federal Communication Commission and its television license to a major network in complex transaction worth nearly $100 million.
Binnie Media announced the sale in a prepared statement on its website, NH1. com, on Friday. Robb Atkinson, general manager of NH1News, the company digital news outlet compromised of NH1.com and NH1 Radio News, com, could not be reached for comment.
Binnie Media operates two radio stations — WLNH-FM and WEMJ-AM — and a television studio in Laconia. The company is headquartered in Concord, where it purchased, renovated and equipped the Walker Street School. The impact of the transaction on the company's operations in Laconia and Concord has not yet been disclosed.
The Federal Communications Commission, in what it calls a "spectrum auction," is purchasing local television stations and reselling their broadcasting rights, or "spectrum," to mobile telephone and wireless communications firms to increase the capacity for wireless broadband use and hasten the transition from 4G to 5G wireless internet service.
WBIN-TV sold its rights for $68.1 million and at the same time sold its remaining television licensing rights for an undisclosed amount estimated to fall between $10 million and $30 million. Binnie Media purchased WBIN-TV five years ago for $9 million. "The deal makes WBIN-TV one of the most valuable media properties in the history of New Hampshire media," Binnie said in a prepared statement. He added that the company foresaw the opportunity offered by the Federal Communications Commisison and "will reinvest the proceeds with an eye to future growth. Our commitment to New Hampshire and local news ," he stressed, "has never been stronger."
The company's television operations will go dark in the coming months. Meanwhile, the company said that proceeds from the sale will be applied to acquiring digital, radio and outdoor media assets and to investing in its 19 radio stations in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine as well as its digital news operation, NH1.com. Binnie said that many employees at WBIN-TV will remain with the company.
"NH1 Radio News and NH1.com," Atkinson said, "will continue to provide breaking news and information to our viewers and listeners. We are investing significantly in new technologies so we can deliver content where people want it — digitally. The days of running home to watch news on a television set are quickly disappearing."