Gulf-California Acquires Desert Television's KESQ Palm Springs Assets

Desert Television's KPSP Palm Springs has merged with Gulf-California's KESQ following the sale of KPSP, its license and its building to Gulf-California, which is part of News-Press & Gazette. The deal puts the local ABC, CBS, CW, Fox and Telemundo affiliates under the same owner. Gulf-California plans to air CBS and Fox on the ABC affiliate's subchannels.

Terms of the transaction were not revealed.

Desert Television chief James Houston, a successful entrepreneur, called KPSP "a labor of love" for his late wife Jackie Lee, who died in September.

"In addition to its excellent local news commitment, the station has made a tremendous contribution to the non-profit community of the Coachella Valley," said Houston. "With [Jackie Lee's] passing, we have now made the difficult decision to find a new owner for our television operation. While a number of options were carefully considered, a merger with the Bradley family, owners of Gulf-California, was ultimately chosen as the best opportunity."

The Desert Sun newspaper says around half of KPSP's staff lost their jobs as a result of the merger, but 70% of on-air personalities survived.

"Selling ... will save many of the jobs of our fine employees as well as preserve the award winning news programming of Local 2 News and the station's popular franchise Eye on the Desert," said Houston.

Former Clear Channel Television President/CEO Don Perry has held the general manager position at KPSP since 2008. Perry says he will consult for NPG as the merger comes together, then will consider new opportunities.

Palm Springs is DMA No. 145.

The Palm Springs merger was previously reported in Magid Morning Facts.

"We feel very fortunate to be able to acquire such a strong station with a huge commitment to local news coverage," said David Bradley, CEO of NPG. "This arrangement allows us to combine the two best newsgathering organizations in the Coachella Valley with each station continuing to maintain their own unique news brands." Bradley said that Gulf California is keeping as many KPSP employees as possible. "Our company will be very familiar to the Local 2 News staff as we too are family-owned."

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.