Doing business unusual

Granite Broadcasting did some fancy footwork to land the NBC affiliate in the fifth market

industry for minorities.

According to the NTIA’s 1998 report, only 26 of 1,209 commercial television stations nationwide were owned by African Americans. And, although Cornwell owns nine of those 26 stations, he still felt inclined to pay for affiliate programming while more established majority-owned stations receive payment for such an arrangement.

Reportedly, NBC asked Young Broadcasting to begin paying $10 million a year to renew the contract, but Young declined because the concept was outlandish.

Cornwell concedes that Granite is also taking a “fair amount” of punishment for the deal on Wall Street. In the first four days after the deal was announced in February, the company’s stock fell from $12.75 to $7.25, a 43% drop. But, Cornwell points out that the average price of around $10 was inflated based on rumors before the deal was announced.

“Who’s to say at this point whether it was a good or bad decision?” Lewis asks. “Mr. Cornwell is a very savvy businessman. I’m sure he did his due diligence and concluded that this was a deal that would benefit his company. He should be applauded for his willingness to use an innovative approach to gain the advantage for the company.”

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