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ENTERCOM, CBS, KDND AND THE FUTURE

The moves around Entercom’s acquisition of CBS Radio have already begun, starting with a surprise 2/3 announcement that the company will voluntarily surrender the license of embattled Sacramento property KDND-FM, and power down the station on Wednesday, 2/8. “Entercom has submitted a public filing today voluntarily turning in license to operate KDND in Sacramento to facilitate the timely FCC approvals for the planned combination with CBS Radio,” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement.

This pre-empts a legal fight the station was facing to keep its license, stemming from a 2007 morning show contest called “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” which resulted in the death of one of the contestants, Jennifer Strange, who died of water intoxication.  Her family later won a wrongful death suit against Entercom and a jury awarded the family $16.5m.  In October of last year, the FCC announced that a decision on whether KDND would be granted a new license would go before an administrative law judge.

But it also begins the process of divestiture for FCC compliance, as the mega-merger has created overlap in six key markets—Sacramento among them. The other five are Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle and San Diego.

Adding uncertainty to this process is a radically new political landscape, with the Trump administration aggressively pushing for deregulation of industry, and the appointment of a new FCC head. Will this climate entail changes in ownership limits for broadcasters?

The merger has been praised by investors and analysts, who demonstrated their approval by pushing Entercom’s stock up 11% on Thursday, to close at $15.70 a share.

And while the channel assets may fit nicely together, the divergent philosophies between CBS and Entercom on how the properties are operated and managed does not, according to many insiders. CBS prefers a top-down, “cluster” approach while Entercom likes to run their stations as individual, local entities.

What will this mean going forward for the highly successful and respected Kevin Weatherly and Michael Martin? With Entercom CEO David Fields now in charge, stay tuned.

This is bound to get more interesting. 

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