Former Owner Tries to Win Back WLNE

By Andrew Gauthier 

WLNE‘s former owner is doing his best to regain control of the Providence ABC-affiliate, which was recently sold in an auction hearing to New York-based Citadel Communications.

Kevin O’Brien, who purchased the station in 2007 for $14 million, has criticized how the sale of the troubled station was handled and now he is bringing the issue to the Rhode Island Supreme Court, according to WPRI.

On March 22nd, a judge approved the sale of WLNE to Citadel, the stalking horse bidder in the auction proceedings, for $5.8 million, including $4 million in cash.


Leading up to the auction hearing for the station, which entered receivership last summer, O’Brien claimed that WLNE’s court-appointed representative was not trying hard enough to get what O’Brien felt was a fair price.

Much of O’Brien’s criticism is rooted in the fact that ABC threatened to pull WLNE’s affiliation in the weeks leading up to the auction. Pointing out that WLNE’s 2010 gross sales totaled $8.47 million, O’Brien told the court at the time that ABC’s threat was “directly negatively influencing the sales price.”

Factoring into the judge’s decision to ultimately pick Citadel was that ABC had agreed to enter into a new affiliation agreement with only one bidder: Citadel.