Hearst To Acquire WBBH Fort Myers From Waterman Broadcasting
Group picks up NBC affiliate in growing Florida market
Hearst Television has agreed to acquire WBBH Fort Myers-Naples, Florida, from Waterman Broadcasting. WBBH is an NBC affiliate and a strong news performer in the No. 55 DMA.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval. It is expected to close in the third quarter.
Under the transaction, Hearst will assume Waterman Broadcasting’s programming relationship with Montclair Communications, owner of WZVN, the market’s ABC affiliate.
“This transaction provides an excellent strategic fit for our company and underscores our commitment to local television broadcasting and to leadership in our television markets across the country,” said Steven R. Swartz, president and CEO of Hearst.
WBBH is known locally as NBC2. WBBH and its management relationship with WZVN represent the whole of Waterman’s station portfolio.
“Waterman Broadcasting has always placed paramount importance on local journalism and unwavering service to the community,” said Steve Pontius, executive VP and general manager of Waterman Broadcasting. “Southwest Florida viewers have known for decades that they can ‘Count on NBC2.’ I am confident that Hearst is the best television broadcaster in America to continue that commitment.”
WBBH went on the air in late 1968. Bernard Waterman founded Waterman Broadcasting in 1956.
“Bernie and Edith Waterman have been outstanding stewards of WBBH-TV and the programming relationship with WZVN-TV,” said Jordan Wertlieb, president of Hearst Television. “They have served the viewers of Fort Myers and Naples with distinction since 1979. Of course, both stations provided important lifesaving coverage during Hurricane Ian and have been providing information and updates as the area recovers and rebuilds. We are proud to have been selected to continue the legacy of such distinguished broadcasters.“
Edith Waterman, president of Waterman Broadcasting, called the decision to sell WBBH “emotional.”
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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.