SNN, From Bankruptcy To Broadcast

Media

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING THURSDAY SEP 25, 2014

The Suncoast News Network next month will broadcast over public airwaves for the first time following a decision by Citadel Communications to merge the news network with WLWN, the local station broadcasting the Live Well Network. The change will immediately make SNN available to some 25,000 homes in Southwest Florida without a subscription to Comcast or Verizon.

"This transition can really help us continue the improvements that we would like to see happen with SNN," said Ray Cole, president and chief operating officer for Citadel.

The move also marks a significant milestone about two-and-a-half years after SNN under previous management had filed for bankruptcy in February 2012. The financial difficulties faced then led to Citadel's involvement in the station, and Citadel became the majority stake owner of the station on Jan. 1 this year. Citadel three years ago purchased the low-power station where WLDN has broadcast ever since. 

But the decision to start broadcasting SNN over the WLWN frequency was made in response to a decision by Disney to discontinue the Live Well Network at the end of this year. Citadel considered what to pick up in the slot instead, Cole said, and ultimately decided the best move would be to make SNN a broadcast channel. Transmission over air channel 39.1 will begin on Oct. 15, when the station's call letters will formally change to WSNN. SNN will still broadcast for the time being on its current cable channels, on Verizon channel 26 and 526 in high-definition, and on Comcast on channel 6 in Sarasota County, channel 11 in Charlotte County and on high-definition channel 400 in both counties. 

"This is another significant step forward for SNN and part of our continuing strategy for growth," said Phil Lombardo, Citadel CEO. 

Cole stressed that SNN's mission statement is to provide 24-hour local news, and that mission has not changed. With the switch, the station is looking at other programming to include in its line-up, and is adding John Tesh's nationally syndicated Intelligence for Your Life program to its morning line-up from 9-10am. Cole said having a broadcast channel opens up possibilities for such syndicated programming, and the station also plans to move away from paid infomercial programming as it evolves to a broadcast outlet. The Tesh program is in addition to the existing news programming on the station, which will stay in place.

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