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MI News 26 Founder Starting National News Network


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On 11/22/2020 at 11:30 AM, caliwxdude said:

just let NewsNet die; the money has to dry up at some point.

It might have just dried up, because word on the street is Wotila has sold majority ownership in his two OTA stations. This comes about a year after some construction permits Freelancer Television had in Colorado since 2016 were transferred to Major Market Broadcasting (a group that has several stations running NewsNet).

 

EDIT: The Paperwork. The stations are being transferred to "Bridge News, LLC", a company owned 90% by Manoj Bhargava (a Conservative who owns the company that produces 5 Hour Energy and owns 5.2% of Gray Television) and 10% by Eric Wotila (founder of NewsNet/WMNN/etc). It's not clear if NewsNet is part of this deal.

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25 minutes ago, Weeters said:

It might have just dried up, because word on the street is Wotila has sold majority ownership in his two OTA stations. This comes about a year after some construction permits Freelancer Television had in Colorado since 2016 were transferred to Major Market Broadcasting (a group that has several stations running NewsNet).

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The TVNewsTalk.net On Your Side I-Team Investigators have been working night and day, on a mission to "figure out what the hell is going on" with this transaction, and can report the following:

 

According to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs online filing system, the registered agent for Bridge News, LLC is also attached to the following relevant business registrations:

Cypress NewsNet LLC (Registered 12/16/21)

FTB Operations LLC (Mentioned in FCC paperwork, registered 1/13/22)

NewsNet Operations LLC (Registered 1/13/22)

 

Presumably, these are subsidiaries of Bridge News LLC.

 

Additionally, Eric Wotila registered/modified the following companies as well:

Lakeline News Operations LLC (Formerly NewsNet LLC, changed 1/19/22)

Lakeline News Inc (Registered 12/29/21)

 

The FCC Paperwork

The FCC paperwork has a number of attachments, including an Asset Purchase Agreement, and a Time Brokerage agreement.

 

The Asset Purchase agreement, entered into on 1/13/22, is between Freelancer Television Broadcasting, Inc and Eric Wotila personally. The buyer of the assets is "FTB Operations, LLC" which is the new company registered above. The purchase price is $20,000 and "assumed liabilities".

 

The Time Brokerage Agreement, entered into on 1/13/22, is some legalese to allow FTB Operations (which now owns all the IP/contracts/etc) to program the OTA stations that are still technically licensed to Freelancer Television Broadcasting, Inc until the FCC approves the sale. There is an exception in the agreement for two hours on Sunday mornings, likely for EI programming. As part of the agreement, FTB Operations pays Freelancer $250 a month plus "reasonable and prudent station expenses associated with the fulfillment of Licensee's obligation to transmit Broker's programs."

 

Summary

So, basically, the entire NewsNet Empire is now in the control of Manoj Bhargava/Bridge News LLC via MBX Wyoming Inc, with Eric only owning 10% of Bridge News.

 

The Speculation

Mr. Bhargava is Gray Television's #3 institutional shareholder, through his company MBX Capital LLC (Not to be confused with a similar company MBX Capital Inc which seems to specialize in healthcare investments), owning 5.3% of their publicly traded shares. This transaction was made in July 2021, at the cost of around $100 million dollars. It is unclear what the intentions are with this acquisition of NewsNet. Only time will tell, I suppose.

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1 hour ago, Weeters said:

The TVNewsTalk.net On Your Side I-Team Investigators have been working night and day, on a mission to "figure out what the hell is going on" with this transaction, and can report the following:

 

According to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs online filing system, the registered agent for Bridge News, LLC is also attached to the following relevant business registrations:

Cypress NewsNet LLC (Registered 12/16/21)

FTB Operations LLC (Mentioned in FCC paperwork, registered 1/13/22)

NewsNet Operations LLC (Registered 1/13/22)

 

Presumably, these are subsidiaries of Bridge News LLC.

 

Additionally, Eric Wotila registered/modified the following companies as well:

Lakeline News Operations LLC (Formerly NewsNet LLC, changed 1/19/22)

Lakeline News Inc (Registered 12/29/21)

 

The FCC Paperwork

The FCC paperwork has a number of attachments, including an Asset Purchase Agreement, and a Time Brokerage agreement.

 

The Asset Purchase agreement, entered into on 1/13/22, is between Freelancer Television Broadcasting, Inc and Eric Wotila personally. The buyer of the assets is "FTB Operations, LLC" which is the new company registered above. The purchase price is $20,000 and "assumed liabilities".

 

The Time Brokerage Agreement, entered into on 1/13/22, is some legalese to allow FTB Operations (which now owns all the IP/contracts/etc) to program the OTA stations that are still technically licensed to Freelancer Television Broadcasting, Inc until the FCC approves the sale. There is an exception in the agreement for two hours on Sunday mornings, likely for EI programming. As part of the agreement, FTB Operations pays Freelancer $250 a month plus "reasonable and prudent station expenses associated with the fulfillment of Licensee's obligation to transmit Broker's programs."

 

Summary

So, basically, the entire NewsNet Empire is now in the control of Manoj Bhargava/Bridge News LLC via MBX Wyoming Inc, with Eric only owning 10% of Bridge News.

 

The Speculation

Mr. Bhargava is Gray Television's #3 institutional shareholder, through his company MBX Capital LLC (Not to be confused with a similar company MBX Capital Inc which seems to specialize in healthcare investments), owning 5.3% of their publicly traded shares. This transaction was made in July 2021, at the cost of around $100 million dollars. It is unclear what the intentions are with this acquisition of NewsNet. Only time will tell, I suppose.

Wow....what a waste of money. God knows how he's getting that money back with Newsnet and some lowpowered small market stations.

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17 minutes ago, HoosierNewsie said:

From my understanding, nothing is going to change with NewsNet. 
 

While I’m at it, I don’t get why everyone hates on NewsNet… 
 

Like what has he done that is so bad that everyone wants to see him fail? 

 

The whole enterprise is built around a questionable use of CNN Newspath, anchors have blatantly posted their far-right affiliations on social media, the actual news they do show is...old? There's a line between scrappy and amateur, Newsnet hews more closely to the latter. 

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On 1/13/2022 at 1:56 AM, Yankees4life said:

Huge blow to Newsnet as they lose the Top Market there and will have to scramble to find a new affiliate 

A station carried by few to no cable systems? Hardly a huge blow. As long as they've got their news producing deals for Coastal, NewsNet will somehow stay afloat, much to the delight of Amercian TV news fans in the Philippines. 

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  • 2 months later...
1 hour ago, RGSJenkins said:

ABC Alaska (KYUR) has dropped NewsNet for Waypoint's News Hub.

 

I assume KTWO has done the same? That's gonna be a huge blow to them, as the Costal/Vision Alaska deal was probably what was keeping the network on air with Newsy availiable as a wider reaching and more professional alternative......

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16 hours ago, Publicradio for Central MS said:

I thought that those graphics were exclusive to Waypoint stations. I guess those are syndicated by News Hub. 

They're not syndicated. Coastal owns both the former Waypoint stations (except for Hattiesburg for whatever reason) and News Hub now, so one in the same company. It's not surprising that NewsNet was dumped in Alaska and Wyoming in favor of News Hub-produced shows, since they own it now.

I'm a little surprised they kept News Hub intact as well aside from ditching the in-house meteorologists (that's now outsourced to Praedictix out of the Twin Cities area, and honestly it's an improvement, their weather graphics are better because they use a Baron system as opposed to the AccuWeather crap the in-house mets used).

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For the severe weather outbreaks that have passed through the Meridian area the past several weeks, THIS is the coverage they have been providing on both WGBC and WMDN

I think it's a local thing they use exclusive to that market.   Meanwhile, WTOK is like any other station when a tornado warning is issued....wall to wall coverage.

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While looking at their website because of the new graphics and branding, I came across their "Contact Us" page, where, to my surprise, there were new names listed as "CEO" and "COO".

 

image.png.5e3dc7f61107e8f1a5c1611e545cdf89.png

 

Vince Bodiford and Chris Anderson are the CEO and COO of "NewsMakers Media", which appears to be a PR firm. From their website:

Quote

Media Relations

We have established, proven relationships with journalists to earn positive coverage in trusted media outlets. We don’t just drop press releases, we tailor our message for relevant outlets at the local, national and international levels. Our services include a wide range of proven tools and techniques, to include: press releases, press conferences, media training, press kits, media tours, and exclusive interviews. We produce tailored and custom media and news assets in all forms – for print media, broadcast television, social media platforms, and live events. 

Vince's LinkedIn also lists NewsNet and "NewsMakers Media" as a subsidiary of "Golden Media, Inc"

image.thumb.png.8b0e3ab65419bdfd921a8727da1a9c48.png

 

So, uh, is NewsNet (sorry... NEWSnet) now just a PR firm wearing a "News.... AS IT USED 'TA BE!!!" mask? This makes the purchase even weirder imo.

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2 hours ago, Weeters said:

While looking at their website because of the new graphics and branding, I came across their "Contact Us" page, where, to my surprise, there were new names listed as "CEO" and "COO".

 

image.png.5e3dc7f61107e8f1a5c1611e545cdf89.png

 

Vince Bodiford and Chris Anderson are the CEO and COO of "NewsMakers Media", which appears to be a PR firm. From their website:

Vince's LinkedIn also lists NewsNet and "NewsMakers Media" as a subsidiary of "Golden Media, Inc"

image.thumb.png.8b0e3ab65419bdfd921a8727da1a9c48.png

 

So, uh, is NewsNet (sorry... NEWSnet) now just a PR firm wearing a "News.... AS IT USED 'TA BE!!!" mask? This makes the purchase even weirder imo.

They (as well as their predecesor MI News 26) has a habit of running PR pieces masquerading as news reports, so I'm guess it's no surprise that a PR firm is in charge though. My question is how are they still using their staff as byline for AP wire services? Can't they get in trouble for that?

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NewsNet has a decent product, decent set and decent graphics. For some reason it doesn't hold my interest.

 

Their anchors have good voices and good presentation skills, but they're mostly hispanic. It looks like they are trying to be the El Paso nightly news just in terms of the talent they use.

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NewsNet is planning to build another studio 200 miles away in Farmington Hills, MI and start a turnkey localized forecasts service like Edward Saint Pé's WeatherVision. They already provide weather for NewsChannel Nebraska, WBKB, and WBUP. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/newsnet-to-invest-50-million-for-new-studios-247-news-content-solutions-for-carriers-301529363.html

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Hopefully, the money will be spent with a little more discretion than it has previously. New sets, graphics, and fleets of brand new live trucks that they got for some wild, unknown reasons (they rarely, if ever, do live coverage, let alone live remote coverage) do not contribute to the stories being told. That said, I'm not going to hold my breath that the $50 million isn't thrown away on a massive Clickspring set, a custom SAM music package, and other flashy stuff for their 19-year-old "anchors" to read CNN Newsource wire copy in front of, because the one thing NewsNet does well is look like it's a big name news outlet while operating like it's a Cadillac, MI local station.

 

 

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