You have 30 days to sell your TV station. Time’s a tickin’….

It’s a station ownership mess in Virginia: In a follow-up to a story in yesterday’s Groovy Grab Bag, The Department of Justice has told Raycom to sell its CBS affiliate in Richmond, Va. (WTVR) – and you have thirty days to do so. Or else.

Raycom acquired NBC affiliate WWBT-TV in Richmond as part of the company’s acquisition of the Lincoln Financial Television Group. This group included once-dominant WBTV (CBS) in Charlotte, and another CBS affiliate, WCSC-TV in Charleston, S.C.

Both WWBT and WBTV were once owned by Jefferson-Pilot.

Since WTVR and WWBT are among the top four stations in the nation’s 58th-largest market, the FCC and the DOJ do not allow a duopoly, since it would lead to higher prices for advertisers and violate anti-trust laws. Raycom entered into a decree with the DOJ to sell WTVR within ninety days. Under this same decree, the DOJ also has the right to reject the buyer.

Raycom tried selling WTVR to Sinclair, but the sale was rejected by the DOJ. Sinclair would turn around and sell Fox affiliate WRLH-TV to a third party, but would continue to operate it.

Raycom has thirty days to find another buyer for the station, but federal law can give the company another thirty days. If a buyer can’t be found in time, the station’s ownership falls in the hands of a trustee.

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