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Mergers and Acquisitions

The ‘Acquisition Binge’ in Local Television

From the Pew Research Center’s report on “the acquisition binge in local television”:

A decade ago, the number of stations owned by what are now the five largest local TV companies was 190. Today, that number is 464. In 2013, alone, about 300 full-power local TV stations changed hands, at a cost of more than $8 billion. That is 195 more stations sold than in 2012 and more than four times the dollar value of the deals made in 2012.

Pew Research Local News Acquisition

Pew Report: Total Value of Station Acquisitions Hits 7-Year High

In the annual State of the News Media report, Pew Research Center finds local television station sales in 2013 were up 205% compared to 2012. Nearly 300 stations were sold last year for a total of $8.8 billion, a 367% increase in total value compared to the previous year.

pew report local tv acquisitions

Sinclair led the way among station groups, purchasing 63 stations in 2013. Gannett purchased Belo, adding 20 stations, and Tribune Co. acquired Local TV, expanding its portfolio by 19 stations. The total value of local television acquisitions in 2013 was the highest it has been since 2006.

Here Are The Markets Where LIN Media and Media General Will Sell or Swap Stations

LIN Media GAs they prepare to merge, LIN Media and Media General will have to sell or swap stations in five markets — Providence, Birmingham, Mobile, Green Bay and Savannah — to comply with FCC rules limiting ownership of more than one station in a market, TVNewsCheck reports:

“We recognize the issue, and we are going to work very constructively and creatively with the FCC to make sure we close this transaction as quickly as possible,” said Mahoney. “We are clear that certain stations will have to be swapped or sold.”

Mahoney suggested that he preferred swaps, even though they are harder to do than straight sales. “It cleans out the issue and could allow us to grow our national footprint. There is real opportunity there.”

A list of the stations is after the jump. Read more

Media General and LIN Media Announce Merger

LIN Media GMedia General and LIN Media have announced a definitive merger agreement valued at $2.6 Billion creating the second largest TV broadcast company in the US.

Vincent Sadusky, LIN Media’s president and CEO, will become president and CEO of the new company which will be called Media General.

This is an exciting and historic day for both companies,” said Sadusky. “Together, we will be able to better serve our local communities throughout our significant and diverse geographic footprint and further grow our national digital business. I am honored to lead our new company, deliver important synergies and achieve new levels of success.”

The deal will bring together 74 stations which are either owned or operated by the two companies in 46 markets. Combined, the new company’s stations will reach 23% of US TV households.

Emily Barr: Post-Newsweek Stations Not For Sale

Post-Newsweek_LogoEmily Barr, the president and CEO of the Post-Newsweek stations, is seeking to allay fears within the station group after the sale of WPLG, the ABC affiliate in Miami, was announced this morning. In a memo to staffers obtained by TVSpy, Barr writes:

Please know that the decision to trade WPLG, which has long been an important part of the fabric of Post-Newsweek, was not made lightly or without regard to the implications this has for our remaining five stations. We are a broadcast group that has long been the envy of many in our industry and we remain healthy and influential. Let me assure you we will continue to innovate, lead and evolve far into the future.

When you are asked (and you will undoubtedly be asked) if Post-Newsweek Stations is for sale, you can emphatically state we are not. Don has asked me to innovate and grow our existing stations, not prepare them for sale.

Read the full memo after the jump. Read more

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway to Acquire WPLG From Graham Holdings

WPLG_Local_10_ABCWarren Buffett is adding a television station to Berkshire Hathaway’s media portfolio: the company will acquire WPLG, the ABC affiliate in Miami, from Graham Holdings Co.’s Post-Newsweek station group.

In addition to WPLG, the deal includes Berkshire shares currently held by Graham Holdings Co. and cash. The amounts of both will be determined on the closing date, Berkshire Hathaway says.

“Warren Buffett’s 40-year association with our company has been extremely good for our shareholders. Naturally, the deal that we have put together is one that will be good for both companies,” said Donald E. Graham, chairman and CEO of Graham Holdings. “We thank our longtime  colleagues at WPLG for their enormous contributions and congratulate them on the opportunity to join one of the greatest companies in America.”

WPLG is one of the Post-Newsweek Stations named for the Graham family, which has controlled the company since 1933: the call letters for WPLG in Miami are for Philip Leslie Graham, Donald Graham’s father and the former publisher and and co-owner of The Washington Post.

In 2008, Post-Newsweek reached a deal to acquire WTVJ in Miami from NBCUniversal. The deal was later called off due to a “delay in receiving the necessary regulatory approval.”

Comcast Says Stations in TWC Markets Will ‘Have Greater Protections’

comcast time warnerWith Comcast preparing to acquire Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion, the company has released several documents related to the merger. In one memo, called “Day One Undertakings,” Comcast EVP David Cohen details the effects for local stations in Time Warner markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Cleveland:

Broadcast stations in the acquired markets will have greater protections in their retransmission consent negotiations with the acquired systems. Among other things,  NBC affiliate market integrity in these markets would be protected, and Comcast’s negotiations with broadcast stations would be without influence by NBCUniversal’s retransmission consent or affiliate negotiations.

TVNewser has the full memo.

Will Gannett Split Print, TV Assets?

gannett logoBloomberg speculates on the possibility that Gannett Co., which recently acquired Belo, will split its print and television assets:

Gannett is one of the last holdouts in an industry that’s forsaking the traditional newspaper-TV marriage, as Time Warner Inc. (TWX) and Tribune Co. (TRBAA) follow News Corp. in divorcing print media from the faster-growing TV business. While Gannett’s stock price surged after the purchase of Belo, the newspaper unit is still dragging the company’s profit multiple down to the lowest among U.S. media peers, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Splitting off the newspapers would give Gannett a stronger stock currency to buy more local TV stations, FBR & Co. said.

A breakup “would follow a path that many have been down,” William Bird, a New York-based analyst at FBR, said in a phone interview. “This is something that makes long-term sense. The growth profile of a newspaper publisher is definitely much below that of a broadcaster. That’s kind of the lower-multiple business that pulls the whole down.” Read more

United Talent Agency Acquires N.S. Bienstock

nsbeinstockUnited Talent Agency is acquiring N.S. Bienstock. The combined agency will be the world’s largest in the broadcast news space, according to a press release on the merger.

N.S. Bienstock will retain its name, location and all of its agents. Richard Leibner and Carole Cooper will remain co-presidents of the company and will also serve as special advisors to UTA’s Board of directors.

“Aligning with UTA and utilizing their global reach and resources while still retaining our personal touch is a significant step forward in the growth and evolution of N.S. Bienstock,” Leibner said in a statement.

Read the release after the jump. Read more

Journal Broadcast Group Closes Sale of KMIR, KPSE

journal broadcast group logoJournal Broadcast Group has closed the sale of two Palm Springs stations, NBC affiliate KMIR and MyNetworkTV affiliate KPSE, to OTA Broadcasting for $17 million in cash.

OTA Broadcasting, which is backed by Dell CEO Michael Dell, has been “buying up independent stations with an eye toward selling the spectrum back to the government in the FCC’s planned incentive auction,” according to a TVNewsCheck report when the sale was announced.

OTA, based in Fairfax, Va., expands their portfolio to 10 stations with the acquisition.

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