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Pluria Marshall, Jr. Group purchases three TV stations

News Desk | 7/2/2014, 12:42 p.m.
Pluria Marshall Jr.

By MERDIES HAYES

Special to the NNPA from Our Weekly

Pluria Marshall Jr. has purchased three FOX-affiliated television full-power stations – KLJB-TV in Davenport, Iowa; KMSS-TV in Shreveport, La., and KPEJ-TV in Odessa, Tex. For $58.5 million through his Marshall Broadcasting Group (MBG – pending Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval.

Marshall, publisher of the Wave Newspaper Group in Los Angeles, was practically reared within a media environment — his father is Pluria Marshall Sr., a co-founder of the National Association of Black Journalists and in the 1970s formally challenged the dearth of federal broadcast licenses given to minorities when serving as chairman of the National Black Media Coalition.

Though there are Black-owned cable networks, such as Oprah Winfrey’s OWN, there are currently no Black-owned digital television stations, down from 18 n 2006. That would change if the FCC approves the deal.

Under the plan, Marshall’s purchase, Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc. will sell three of its stations to Marshall. The deal would require a waiver from the FCC, which voted in March to bar so-called “shared service agreements” where one station provides services (i.e. advertising) for another.

However, when the FCC passed the ban on such arrangements, it added language designed to encourage waivers for joint sales agreements that have long encouraged diversity in media ownership. Nexstar said it would guarantee the loans necessary for Marshall to meet the $58.5 million price tag.

In a statement, Nexstar CEO Perry A. Sook said, “We believe the proposed transaction presents an ideal framework for introducing and incubating a new, minority-controlled entrant to broadcasting, and for bringing additional news, information and specialized programming to MBG’s markets at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Marshall is convinced the deal will go through and that more people in the south, southwest and midwest will soon enjoy a more diverse television experience.

“We are confident on our end that they (FCC) won’t say no,” Marshall said. “Nexstar is working with us because I’m an ‘operator.’ I’ll employ a ‘hands-on’ ethic that will offer a better chance of success than merely someone who is operating these stations from a distance.”

Marshall said his group has answered “all questions” regarding the financial viability of MBG and, as is usually the case, he said, “…they (FCC) will likely have a few more questions, as is the tradition of any federal body.”

Jim Winston, executive director of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB), told Target Market News, “We have reviewed the application submitted by Marshall Broadcasting Group and Nexstar and are very pleased to see that the transaction appears to be the type of transaction NABOB was hoping to see as a result of the new JSA rule. It appears to be the kind of transaction that should receive a waiver of the rule.”

Winston continued, “We still have some questions about the transaction, and we anticipate that the Commission will seek additional information from the parties about the transaction. We are optimistic that, as additional information is supplied to the Commission, NABOB will be able to wholeheartedly endorse this transaction. As described it represents the type of agreement that could be beneficial to increasing minority ownership of broadcast properties and create increased opportunities for minority-owned content producers and channels.”