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Word came out today that WBIN-TV has been sold in the FCC's spectrum auction, and NH1 News on WBIN has been cancelled.

Word came out today that WBIN-TV has been sold in the FCC's spectrum auction, and NH1 News on WBIN has been cancelled.

The total proceeds from the transaction are estimated to be nearly $100 million dollars.

In a process called the “Spectrum Auction”, the FCC is auctioning off the over-the-air rights, or spectrum, to mobile telephone and wireless communications companies. These airwaves will be used to create lightning fast 5G wireless internet.

WBIN-TV sold its television broadcast rights in the auction for $68.1 million dollars. Additionally, it entered into a sale of its remaining television license rights to a major television group for an undisclosed amount but estimated by insiders to be an additional $10-30 million dollars. The total proceeds from these transactions are estimated to be nearly $100 million dollars. WBIN-TV was purchased a little more than five years ago for $9 million dollars.

WBIN-TV and its television operations will cease broadcasting in the coming months. The proceeds from the sale will be used by the company to acquire other media assets in the digital, outdoor and radio areas as well as for continued investment in its 19 radio stations and its digital news web business NH1.com.

Television stations had three options in the FCC's auction. They could give up their broadcast license completely and go off the air (which is what WBIN has chosen); they could keep their broadcast license and move to a different channel allocation; or they could keep their broadcast license and channel share with another television station (which would be like leasing part of another stations broadcast signal to stay on air.)

Bill Binnie, President of the company said, “I am incredibly proud of the people in our television, radio and digital media businesses. Many of our employees at WBIN-TV and NH1 News will be transferred to our new division. The sale of our television business makes strategic and financial sense. As a result of this sale, we will be making major new investments in our radio and digital businesses. We have the fastest growing news web site in the state NH1.com with millions of page views per month and we will invest heavily in this area. Our 19 radio stations have experienced huge ratings increases and revenue growth. What we have achieved as a media business in the State of New Hampshire in the last few years is incredible. The deal makes WBIN-TV one of the most valuable media properties in the history of New Hampshire media. The FCC commenced the biggest assembly of airwaves to connect and build a nationwide mobile platform for handheld and wireless devices. We recognized it and will reinvest the proceeds with an eye to future growth. Our commitment to New Hampshire and local news has never been stronger. We look forward to a bright future.”

The company recently purchased two radio stations 98.7 FM The Bay and WTSN 98.1 FM/1270 AM in the Seacoast area and announced plans to acquire additional radio assets. The company owns 19 radio stations, as well as outdoor and digital news platforms including NH1.com.

Robb Atkinson will now be the General Manager of the newly expanded NH1 News digital business, which includes NH1.com and NH1 Radio News. He had been the news director for NH1 News.

Atkinson said, “NH1 Radio News and NH1.com will continue to provide breaking news and information to our viewers and listeners. We are investing significantly in new technologies so we can deliver content where people want it--digitally--on their mobile phones and devices, tablets and home computers. The days of running home to watch news on a television set are quickly disappearing.”

As much as management is trying create a positive spin on the sale of WBIN-TV and the nearly total shutdown of NH1 News, we're told that is not the case.

Sources tell New England One that NH1 News staff were stunned by the unexpected news. There had been rumors going around about the possible shutdown of NH1 News, but nothing was expected this soon. Staff were told on Thursday that there would be a meeting on Friday morning.

At the meeting on Friday morning, management told staff the news of the WBIN sale, and subsequently the shutdown of NH1 News on television. They were told that the Thursday night broadcast of NH1 News at 10pm was the stations last newscast. The station was broadcasting a rerun of The Simpsons at 5pm on Friday, in place of the former newscast.

Despite Binnie saying that "many of our employees at WBIN-TV and NH1 News will be transferred to our new division," we're told that there were immediate layoffs in the news operation.

Around seven NH1 News employees were kept on to run the networks website, nh1.com. The network laid off all remaining NH1 News employees on the television broadcast side, which accounted for the vast majority of the news operation.

The network is giving its laid off employees a severance package, the details of which were not disclosed.

We're told that no company executives or management were affected by the layoffs.

NH1 News Network began broadcasting on WBIN-TV in September 2014. It expanded their newscasts a year later. Since that time, the organization has been nominated for four Emmy Awards and has won several highly prestigious awards from the New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters.

However, NH1 News never gained traction against New Hampshire news powerhouse WMUR News 9. We're told that NH1 News saw some signs of growth in the ratings at the begining, and a year after the launch they were doing "well". Ratings have declined significantly over the past year as more and more people left the station, many of which were never replaced.

The shutdown of NH1 News is just the latest failure in the history of news operation attempts at WBIN-TV.

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