Bankrupt broadcaster sells Mississippi TV station

JACKSON, Miss. -- Roberts Broadcasting has sold Jackson television WRBJ-TV to religious broadcaster Trinity Broadcasting Network.

Media Venture Partners, which the bankrupt Roberts hired to sell its stations in Jackson, Columbia, S.C., and Evansville, Ind., says the station will begin showing Trinity's Christian programming. The station, which airs on channel 34, currently shows programming from the CW network. The move could leave the Jackson television market without a CW affiliate, although it could take months for the Federal Communications Commission to approve a license transfer.

No price was disclosed. A bankruptcy judge in St. Louis must approve the sale before it can close.

"We are pleased to again work with Trinity Broadcasting Network. We have known the outstanding leadership of Trinity President Paul Crouch, for over two decades," Roberts Broadcasting President Steve Roberts said in the statement. "We know that the greater Jackson, Mississippi, region will welcome the Trinity programming."

Brothers Steve and Mike Roberts also own hotels, including the shuttered Roberts Walthall Hotel in downtown Jackson. Those interests are not part of the bankruptcy case.

The Roberts' four television stations each filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in October 2011, with WRBJ listing $1.23 million in debts and $174,000 in assets in February. Total debt for all four stations was about $7.25 million in February, while total assets were about $1.25 million.

Court papers show the station has lost from $10,000 to $30,000 each month in recent months.

Trinity Broadcasting Network currently owns stations in 21 states, according to its website, but none in Mississippi. It has affiliates in three other states. Some Mississippi viewers can see TBN programming on stations located in Memphis, Tenn., and Mobile, Ala.