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N.H. TV station lays off employees, will go off air

Director Ben Sparling monitored NH1 News from the production control room in 2014. Cheryl Senter for the Boston Globe/File/Globe Freelance

WBIN, one of New Hampshire’s two commercial television stations, said Friday that it will go off the air “in the coming months” after selling its broadcasting rights at auction for more than $68 million.

The station, which broadcasts NH1 News, laid off most of its news staff Friday morning, according to an employee who was in a meeting announcing the plan. “They pretty much got rid of everybody,” the person said. “More than 20, maybe 30 people.”

A statement announcing the sale of the broadcast rights did not mention the layoffs. The station’s general manager did not respond to requests for comment.

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The release said parent company Binnie Media, owned by businessman and former US Senate candidate Bill Binnie, would collect another $10 million to $30 million by selling other licensing rights.

The $68 million sale to the Federal Communications Commission is a big haul for Binnie, who bought WBIN in 2011 for about $9 million.

The sale was part of an FCC auction that has created big windfalls for some television station owners. The agency has been buying local stations and will then sell the air rights to wireless communication companies, in order to improve broadband service as consumers increasingly obtain news on mobile devices.

Binnie Media said it would use the money to further invest in its 19 radio stations, potentially acquire others, and continue to operate the NH1 website. “NH1 Radio News and NH1.com will continue to provide breaking news and information to our viewers and listeners,” the statement said.

WBIN is not affiliated with a national television network.

Its NH1 newscast launched in expanded form in 2014, before the election advertising season. It marked the latest effort from an upstart TV station to compete with ABC affiliate WMUR’s long-running New Hampshire newscast.


Adam Vaccaro can be reached at adam.vaccaro@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamtvaccaro.

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