FCC Rules Free Lance-Star, Radio Stations Split

by | Mar 16, 2015 | Government

The Free Lance-Star building in Fredericksburg. Photo copyright Susan Larson.

December 3, 2014, Update: WFLS and Sister Stations to Be Sold

Sandton Capital Partners has one year to sell The Free Lance-Star or its four radio stations, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ruled.

The new owner of the Free Lance-Star had petitioned the FCC for a waiver of its newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership restriction, designed to prevent media monopolies in local markets. Sandton must now decide if it will keep the newspaper or radio stations, or sell them all.

“There would almost certainly be more bidders for the radio group, based on last Spring’s pre-auction roll-call,” said Tom Taylor in his industry newsletter. “Larry Wilson of Alpha Broadcast set down his private plane in Fredericksburg back then, but is he still interested?”

Sandton, a New York based company with a limited partnership in the Cayman Islands, purchased the Free Lance-Star Company’s $38 million BB&T loan balance in the summer of 2013, which lead to the publishing company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing on Jan 23, 2014. Nine companies participated in the May 2014 auction for its assets, according to FLS attorney Lynn Tavenner. Sandton submitted the winning bid of $30.2 million.

In addition to the daily newspaper, the company’s assets include Fredericksburg.com, Freelancestar.com, WFLS, WVBX (formerly WYSK), WWUZ and WNTX. It also owns real estate and other digital operations.

Florence Barnick, a former owner of The Free Lance-Star, has been leading the radio station operations while Sandton awaited the FCC’s decision. The sale of the Free Lance-Star ended the Rowe family’s 130-year tenure as owners of the media company.

Related Stories

Free Lance-Star Radio Cluster Sold

WFLS and Sister Stations to Be Sold

FCC Rules Free Lance-Star, Radio Stations Split

Sandton Closes Deal, Names Interim FLS Publisher

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