Bonneville International Corp. finally has received Federal Communication Commission approval for its 13-month-old transaction to acquire 15 radio stations, including four in Salt Lake City, from Simmons Media Group of Salt Lake.
The sale, worth approximately $175 million, will make Bonneville the dominant radio company in the Salt Lake market. The deal originally was announced Nov. 7, 2002, but was delayed pending FCC approval.
According to Bruce T. Reese, president and CEO of Bonneville, the sale was finalized Friday.
It includes Bonneville taking KSFI (FM-100), KRSP (Arrow 103.5) and KQMB (Star 102.7) from Simmons, plus KREC-FM (98.1), KSNN-FM (93.5), KDXU-AM (960) and KUNF-AM (1210) from the St. George/Cedar City market and another seven stations in the Blackfoot/Idaho Falls/Pocatello, Idaho market.
However, Reese said Bonneville has not officially closed on the 15th station, KUTR-AM (820), a new Salt Lake station that is not yet operational. He said it will obtain that station in the near future.
One other factor also remains up in the air the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule still under review by the FCC. What Bonneville essentially has received for the four Salt Lake stations is a one-year waiver on the rule. If the FCC doesn't relax the regulation in the next year, then there's a chance Bonneville will have to sell KSFI, KRSP, KQMB and KUTR.
"It's a remote risk," Reese said. "We're confident."
The cross-ownership rule, designed to prevent a media monopoly in local markets, has prohibited Bonneville from owning other radio stations in the Salt Lake market in the past because it has the same parent company as the Deseret Morning News. Bonneville also owns KSL (AM-1160) and KSL-TV, channel 5, in the Salt Lake market.
Bonneville and the Deseret Morning News are owned by Deseret Management Corp., a holding company for businesses affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"We're excited to operate these stations," Reese said, explaining that no formats nor personalities will change. "Their employees are now Bonneville employees."
Reese said most people won't notice the change, except in station identification announcements that specify station ownership.
Bonneville eventually expects to move the Salt Lake stations to its headquarters at 55 N. 300 West. Simmons Media currently operates them at Trolley Corners on 700 East.
Numbers-wise, the sale and the eventual AM-820 deal will mean Bonneville will have five radio stations in the Salt Lake market. Two other companies, Clear Channel and Citadel, already own seven radio stations apiece in the market.
However, based on the summer Arbitron ratings, the sale means Bonneville has a commanding 22.1 percent of the age 12-plus audience in the Salt Lake-area radio market. Clear Channel is second at 19.6 percent and Citadel Broadcasting third at 12.4 percent.
A key component of the sale for long-time radio fans is that Bonneville finally gets back KSFI, which used to be KSL-FM, sold to Simmons back in 1978 amidst some controversy.
The Blackfoot/Idaho Falls/Pocatello stations included in the deal are: KCVI -FM (101.5), KFTZ-FM (103.3), KLCE-FM (97.3), KPLV-FM (105.5), KZNR -AM (690), KZNI-AM (1260) and KBLI -AM (1620).
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