Rev. Jesse Jackson, NAACP, and Rainbow Push Coalition Are Getting Involved With the Sale of a Detroit TV Station





Local TV broadcast owner Kevin Adell has been waiting for the Federal Communications Commission to approve the sale of his Detroit-area station to Mission Broadcasting, a company that is run by local broadcasting giant Nexstar. The wait has resulted in a spiraling real-life drama over the home of the local The CW affiliate, complete with legal threats. The delays have drawn Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rainbow Push Coalition, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People into the mix.

Jackson, representing the Rainbow Push Coalition, sent a follow-up letter on Monday to the FCC seeking a meeting with Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, reiterating the original request from Jackson earlier this month. It also followed letters sent last week by Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit branch of the NAACP, to both FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and Commissioner Brendan Carr. TheDesk originally reported on the letters to the FCC.

Both organizations are pushing to close the sale because they represent the minority shareholders, most of whom are the descendants of the original investors in the black-owned WADL station.

“Most of the original investors, like Horace L. Sheffield, Jr., O’Neal Swanson, and George White have passed away leaving their hopes and dreams that their children and grandchildren would inherit the fruit of their investments,” Anthony said in the letter, which Cord Cutters News has reviewed. “These families are finally, after all these years, in a position to do just that, if, and only if, this sale of WADL is allowed to proceed and be approved.”

The deal is in limbo because public interest groups have expressed concern that Nexstar is bypassing local ownership rules restricting how many local stations it can own by using Mission Broadcasting to make the acquisition. Companies like DIRECTV have previously accused Mission of serving as a “sidecar” business running stations at the behest of Nexstar.

Adell, who is caucasian, has been waiting for approval of the deal, with the delay causing him to seek renegotiating terms with Nexstar to carry The CW. When Nexstar refused to enter a standard distribution agreement with Adell, he dropped the the channel. Instead, E.W. Scripps’ WMYD-TV, also known as TV20, picked up The CW, despite Adell’s threat of a lawsuit.

Adell argued that Mission Broadcasting is able to take WADL to the “next level,” and that he has a responsibility to the families of the original investors.

“I am the only person left in my family to operate the business,” he said in his own letter to Rosenworcel, which Cord Cutters News has reviewed. “I need to realize a return on my investment for my family and I have a fiduciary responsibility to the heirs of the original African American shareholders who are now deceased to also realize return on their investment.

“I did not create the consolidation, but now I have to deal with it,” he said.

Correction: The story mistakenly said Adell is black.

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