Waterman Broadcasting Corporation announced today that it has entered into an agreement to sell southwest Florida market leader WBBH- TV, NBC2 to Hearst Television. With the transfer of ownership, Hearst will also assume the programming relationship with Montclair Communications, Inc., owner of WZVN- TV, ABC7.
Steve Pontius, Executive Vice President & General Manager of Waterman Broadcasting stated, “Waterman Broadcasting has always placed paramount importance on local journalism and unwavering service to the community. Southwest Florida viewers have known for decades that they can “Count on NBC2”. I am confident that Hearst is the best television broadcaster in America to continue that commitment.”
NBC2 and ABC7 provide viewers more than 85 hours of local news weekly with each station producing separate and distinct coverage. They have garnered the industry’s most respected honors. Since 2001, the stations have won eight National Edward R. Murrow Awards for Investigative journalism, Breaking News, News Series, Innovation and Newscast. WBBH-TV has also received six Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for Overall Excellence in local reporting and attracts the largest audience in the region.
“The decision to sell WBBH is challenging and emotional,” commented Edith B. Waterman, President of Waterman Broadcasting. “We have had the great privilege of proudly serving southwest Florida for more than four decades. Broadcasting has filled our lives with wonderful relationships and deep ties to our communities. I am so grateful to all the talented and dedicated employees who made our innovative stations pillars of their communities and great places to work and grow over the last 67 years.”
“Hearst Television has long admired the leadership of Waterman Broadcasting and WBBH,” said Michael J. Hayes, Hearst Television’s chief operating officer. “This success is built upon a dedication to news and community service. We are proud to carry forward the tradition of service Edith Waterman, Steve Pontius and their colleagues have established in Southwest Florida.”
The stations deliver on their unwavering commitment to serve the community time and again as demonstrated by distinguished life-saving coverage during Hurricanes Charley in 2004, Wilma in 2005, Irma in 2017 and most recently Ian in September 2022. In these events, the stations provided hundreds of hours of live, continuous coverage.
WBBH-TV signed on in December 1968 as an NBC affiliate and was purchased by Waterman Broadcasting Corporation in 1979.
Waterman Broadcasting was founded in 1956 by Sanibel residents Edith Waterman and the late Bernard Waterman when they purchased WAAB-AM in Worcester, MA. They built FM stations in Worcester and later in San Antonio, TX after having purchased KTSA-AM in San Antonio in 1965. In 1986, they bought WVIR-TV (NBC) in Charlottesville, VA and entered in to a Local Marketing Agreement to provide programming services to WZVN-TV (then WEVU-TV), Naples, in 1994.
“Bernie and Edith Waterman have been outstanding stewards of WBBH-TV and the programming relationship with WZVN-TV. They have served the viewers of Fort Myers and Naples with distinction since 1979. Of course, both stations provided important lifesaving coverage during Hurricane Ian and have been providing information and updates as the area recovers and rebuilds. We are proud to have been selected to continue the legacy of such distinguished broadcasters,” Jordan Wertlieb, president of Hearst Television Inc. said.
The anticipated closing date for the transaction is third-quarter 2023, pending completion of all regulatory approvals.