Word has been received of the death of former WTAJ-TV co-owner George Koehler, who died July 5 in Delaware. He was 87.

Earlier in his career, Koehler served as general manager at WFIL-TV in Philadelphia, where he helped create the “Action News” format widely imitated by other stations, including Pittsburgh’s WTAE-TV.

In 1972, Koehler was one of the executives who purchased WFBG-TV — now WTAJ — and two other stations from Philadelphia’s Annenberg family.

The Annenbergs, who also published the Philadelphia Inquirer and TV Guide magazine, were forced to sell their broadcast outlets under pressure from the Federal Communications Commission over allegations that their holdings constituted a monopoly.

Koehler and his business partners, including the owners of the Bergen, N.J., Evening Record newspaper, formed Gateway Communications to operate WTAJ and two other former Annenberg stations in Lancaster, Pa., and Binghamton, N.Y.

The company merged out of existence in 2000. More in the Inquirer.