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WEEK-TV Channel 25 sold to new, Quincy-based owner

11 months, 2 weeks ago Steve Tarter, Journal Star business editor

WEEK was one of several stations owned by the Granite Broadcasting Corp. sold to the Quincy firm

From Steve Tarter, Journal Star business editor :
WEEK-TV Channel 25, the first television station to go on the air in Peoria on Feb. 1, 1953, has been sold to Quincy Newspapers Inc., a Quincy-based company that owns and operates 23 small or mid-sized TV stations in 14 markets along with two newspapers and two radio stations..
WEEK was one of several stations owned by the Granite Broadcasting Corp. sold to the Quincy firm. The others were in Ft. Wayne, Ind., Binghamton, N.Y. and Duluth, Minn.
In addition, Quincy will operate WHOI-TV Channel 19, the ABC affiliate that Granite took over in 2009, and WAOE (MyTV). Both stations are located at WEEK's East Peoria studios on Springfield Road.
In all, Quincy announced the acquisition of nine TV stations in four markets on Tuesday. "We are thrilled to acquire these stations as well as the operating agreements for the others," said Ralph Oakley, Quincy's president and CEO.
Oakley said he was familiar with both WEEK and 25 station manager Mark DeSantis. "WEEK has been a terrific station for many years. I know Mark DeSantis through meetings of the Illinois Broadcasters Association," he said.
DeSantis, who's served as WEEK's general manager for nearly 17 years, said the new owners are news-oriented managers. "Ralph Oakley is a well-respected Illinois-based broadcaster. The QNI stations are local news-focused community-minded TV stations which fits the WEEK profile perfectly," he said.
Oakley, who received the Illinois Broadcaster of the Year award in 2012, said he was excited to obtain the Peoria station. "I think the sale is a good thing for central Illinois. Television can be such a catalyst in small and medium-sized markets. Our company tries to be involved in community development," said Oakley.
As for changes at the station, Oakley said it was too soon to speculate. "We have to go through federal regulatory approval which should take a couple of months," he said.
Long the news leader in the Peoria market, WEEK has seen its share of turmoil in recent years. In 2011, WEEK staffers engaged in a contentious contract battle with station management.
The station has also seen the departure of a number of news veterans in recent years such as Mike Dimmick, Gina Morss Fischer and Eric Shangraw.
The latest controversy came in January when Ashley McNamee was taken off 25's anchor desk for the evening news following a reported contract dispute. Viewers even started a petition drive to restore her to the evening anchor desk.

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