If Sook is looking for guidance, he need look no further than how Gray-Raycom is speeding toward merger approval by shedding stations where market conflicts exist.
Tegna is buying up WTOL in Toledo, OH, and KWES in Odessa/Midland TX, for $105 million in cash from Gray.
Scripps is buying two affiliates in Florida and Texas owned by Raycom Media for $55 million.
The stations are KXXV/KRHD in Waco, TX and WTXL in Tallahassee, FL.
Lockwood Broadcasting has agreed to purchase WTNZ in Knoxville, TN, WFXG in Augusta, Ga, WPGX in Panama City, FL and WDFX in the Dothan, Ala.
Last but not least, Gray sold WSWG in Albany, GA to Marquee Broadcasting.
Ten stations sold to four different owners, none of them a Cunningham Broadcasting-type shell or an Armstrong Williams owner-in-name-only beard.
If consolidation is inevitable, do it as transparently and forthrightly as Gray-Raycom.
If you’re on the front lines, it may still suck, but these are owners who seem to take the long view of the business, invest in infrastructure AND people, and keep their noses the hell out of the newsrooms.
The FCC and DOJ still have to sign off on all of this, but it looks a lot more likely, and palatable, to all concerned.