Williams writes that Armstrong Williams — who owns WWMB in Myrtle Beach and WEYI in Flint, Mich., both of which are operated by Sinclair Broadcast Group — will have “the financial rug pulled out from underneath him” if the FCC votes to ban sidecar agreements:
The black-owned stations simply lack the economic scale to get adequate advertising rates to pay their bills or even buy the station. For example, the bank that lent Mr. Williams $50 million to buy his stations did so with the understanding that he had the agreement with Sinclair, the much bigger firm.
In the last 10 years, the number of black-owned commercial television outlets licensed to black-owned companies has dropped to three from 21, the result of general market consolidation and some bankruptcies. Of the three remaining, Mr. Williams owns two and the third belongs to Tougaloo College, a historically black institution in Jackson, Miss.
A change in FCC rules would do more than damage Mr. Williams. His stations serve the areas of Flint, Mich., and Myrtle Beach, S.C., both of which have large minority populations. For many years Mr. Williams, a well-known media personality, has been actively involved in shaping local public-affairs programs that speak to minority concerns as a way to boost his own audience. Losing his TV stations means the communities also will lose broadcast content that reflects a minority perspective.