Bahakel-Fox Renewal in Myrtle Beach "Pretty Far Down the Road"

Bahakel Communications appears to be losing its affiliation
in Charlotte, but Jim Babb, Bahakel executive VP/COO, says the local
broadcaster and Fox are "pretty far down the road" on a multiyear
extension for WFXB Myrtle Beach, Bahakel's one other Fox affiliate.

"We fully expect to come to a good long-term extension
on that contract," says Babb. "We're pretty far down the road on

A Fox insider agreed with Babb's assessment, though a
company spokesperson declined comment.

Babb would not say when that affiliation agreement comes to
a close. WFXB is the No. 3 revenue station in DMA No. 103, according to

Babb says he received a call from Fox at 9:08 a.m. Jan. 28
that it was taking the affiliation from Bahakel's WCCB, which has been aligned
with Fox since the network launched in 1986. Later on that day came the
announcement that Capitol Broadcasting agreed to sell two stations, a CW and
MyNetworkTV, to Fox.

"We were disappointed," says Babb, choosing his
words carefully.

While Fox has cut loose stations and groups that have balked
at the network's aggressive retrans demands, Babb said that was not the case in
Charlotte. "Quite the contrary," he says. "They used us as the
poster child of a top affiliate. We heard nothing but praise from day one."

A News Corp. spokesperson declined comment Jan. 29 on what
Fox plans to do with its new acquisitions in Charlotte.

WCCB, its call letters standing for Charlotte Cy Bahakel,
the company founder, began partnering with Fox in 1986 and features the
branding "Fox Charlotte."

Bahakel is considering its options, which presumably include
becoming a CW or MyNet, depending on which station Fox makes a Fox O&O in
Charlotte. "We are actively engaged in looking at all viable
alternatives," said Babb. "We'll examine and explore all of our

WCCB's affiliation agreement with Fox ends at the close of
June. "We'll work hard to be the best Fox affiliate we can be until
then," says Babb.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.