CBS inks deal to buy Long Island's WLNY/55
CBS said Monday it is buying independent Long Island TV station WLNY and plans a major increase in its news coverage, suggesting tougher competition for Cablevision's News 12 Long Island and Verizon's FiOS1 as well as city-based media outlets.
CBS Television Stations, a division of CBS Corp., will have a duopoly after the transaction -- owning two TV stations in the same market, including WCBS/2. Terms and timing of the transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, weren't disclosed.
WLNY, whose call letters stand for "We Love New York," is based in Melville and is a private company owned by WLNY Holdings Inc. Its signal is distributed by cable, satellite and other TV providers in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut region. The station appears on Channel 55 or 10 on most systems.
"Our plans for the station include adding people and resources to fuel a significant expansion of local news programming well beyond the nightly half-hour that currently airs," CBS TV Stations president Peter Dunn said in a statement. "We also look forward to having a bigger and better news bureau on Long Island that will be a terrific resource for WCBS."
In addition to its 11 p.m. newscast, WLNY airs reruns and syndicated shows including "Ellen," "Law & Order" and "Judge Judy."
Jaci Clement, executive director of Bethpage-based Fair Media Council, a local media watch organization, said after the acquisition, "They pledge to do a full-fledged newscast for Long Island."
She said the enhanced news operation will provide new competition for Cablevision's News 12 Long Island and Verizon's FiOS1, both 24-hour news and public service stations for those companies' respective cable customers. Cablevision also owns Newsday.
The competition won't be just for viewers. Media consultant and blogger Shari Anne Brill says next year's congressional, presidential and local elections represent a strong source for advertising dollars, especially for news shows. "If CBS is talking about ramping up [WLNY's] news, this is really about 2012 and the leadup to the elections," she said.
News 12 Long Island spokeswoman Deborah Koller-Feeney said in an email, "For the past 25 years, News 12 has provided Long Islanders with quality news coverage focused exclusively on Nassau and Suffolk counties . . . We welcome competition."
Verizon spokesman John Bonomo said in an email, "We welcome the partnership of CBS and WLNY-TV in joining with Verizon's FiOS1 to provide a more diverse voice for news and hyperlocal coverage for Long Island communities."
WLNY officials didn't return phone calls. The business information service Dunn and Bradstreet says WLNY had 76 employees as of October.