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Interest shown in WNDU

Kate Antonacci | Monday, August 29, 2005

Nearly five months after Notre Dame announced its plans to sell Michiana Telecasting Corp. (MTC), the operator of WNDU-TV, multiple bidders have expressed interest in purchasing the on-campus NBC affiliate, officials said.

A number of “experienced, high quality operations” have stated their interest in buying the station, which Notre Dame has owned since the 1950s, University President Father John Jenkins said.

“We’re pleased with the number and quality of firms that are interested in purchasing WNDU,” he said. “I think it will be in good hands with any number of those. So that’s where we are now. [There are] several bidders, we’re talking with them and I hope we’ll get a resolution before too long.”

The University announced April 1 that Kalil and Co., a brokerage firm based in Tuscon, Ariz., had been hired to look into the possible sale of MTC.

Kalil and Co. has been involved with the sale of television stations like WNDU in the past, University spokesman Matt Storin said.

Jenkins said the University involved an outside agency because such a sale should be handled by the experts.

“We, in house, don’t have that kind of expertise,” he said. “We don’t have the people that know that kind of business well; we don’t have the people who can make the tough decisions in a kind of intelligent way.”

WNDU’s President and General Manager Jim Behling declined to comment about the possible sale.

“My job is to run and operate the station here,” Behling said. “We’ve just been going along with business as usual. I don’t really have anything to do with the sale.”

Notre Dame started WNDU in the 1950s, during a time when a number of other institutions took similar initiative.

“It was kind of a fledgling industry, and made sense for communication, and it’s done just a tremendous job,” Jenkins said. “It is the leading local station. They just do high quality work.”

Still, Jenkins said it is a complicated business and there are certain pressures that need to be addressed.

“I think we’d be better served if we do our best at running the University and I think a company is going to buy WNDU that knows this business and it’s going to flourish,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said that the station is “better off” – as is the University – if it is owned by a group who knows the media business well.

The University is not worried about students being able to learn from WNDU, as working there will still be an option.

“Any educational benefit we got from it we can still get from it, even if we don’t own it … so it’s not an impediment to the education of our students,” Jenkins said.