Rumor in the WPEC newsroom has it that staff cuts could soon be coming down the pike. Now that the station lost production rights of the WFLX newscasts to WPTV, and with them the rumored $1 million per year from WFLX owner Raycom, it has extra on air staff and no place to re-assign them. Anchors Eric Roby and Suzanne Boyd (who also anchors WPEC newscasts) are said to be the most likely to go if cutbacks do happen and sharp-eyed SFLTV readers have noticed Boyd hasn’t been anchoring the 5:30pm newscast as regularly as she used to, instead main anchors Curt Fonger and Liz Quirantes are handling that show (temporary?).
In addition to Boyd and Roby, it’s possible that either part or all of the sports department would be cut. With WPTV gutting their sports department and getting hitched with ESPN Radio 760AM to cut costs, it isn’t hard to imagine WPEC won’t downsize or just forgo sports altogether. After all ABC affiliate WPBF hasn’t had a sports department in a decade.
The other rumor is that WPEC may be put up for sale “in the near future”. The station’s parent company Freedom Communications came out of bankruptcy in May 2010 but had to give all of itself up to JP Morgan Chase in exchange for a 60% debt reduction. With a big faceless company on the lever that just took more than half a billion dollars hit on the chin they could very well try to recoup some money. Plus it’s not the first time WPEC was put up for sale, Freedom tied it 10 years ago but canceled the sale after a while.
If a sale really transpires we can see Cox Communications as a potential suitor, they own The Palm Beach Post and are already news partners with WPEC. CBS had interest in WPEC last time it was for sale but in this climate and after dumping WTVX, WTCN etc CBS might not be in the mood to shell money out for a mid-market station.