Tribune Co. has reached an agreement to acquire 19 television stations, including WITI-TV (Channel 6) in Milwaukee, from Local TV Holdings LLC for $2.7 billion in cash.
Upon closing, the acquisition will transform Chicago-based Tribune Co. into the nation’s largest commercial TV station owner, with a total of 42 stations from New York to Los Angeles and Miami to Seattle.
“Since joining Tribune in early 2013, we have been setting the strategic foundation to transform Tribune and help chart the path forward–building our multimedia capabilities and asset portfolio to become the country’s leading independent content creator and distributor,” said Peter Liguori, Tribune’s president and chief executive officer. “This is a transformational acquisition for Tribune – it makes us the No. 1 local TV affiliate group in America, expands the distribution platform for our high-quality video content, and extends the reach of our digital products to new audiences across the country. We couldn’t be more excited about Tribune’s future as America’s leader in creating and distributing original content and local news programming.”
Newport, Ky.-based Local TV is principally owned by Oak Hill Capital Partners.
Bobby Lawrence, CEO of Local TV, said, “Local TV and Tribune have had a long, successful relationship over the last five years. Our cultures and operating philosophies are very similar, and we share a strong commitment to news and local programming excellence. My management team will dearly miss working with some of the most talented and dedicated people in broadcasting, but we know we leave our employees in good hands. I am grateful to our partners at Oak Hill Capital, who acquired the finest stations in the industry and helped us build this great company.”
The deal is expected to close by the end of 2013. The deal is subject to antitrust and Federal Communications Commission approvals.
Tribune Co. is trying to sell its newspapers, including The Chicago Tribune, to focus on its more profitable broadcasting operations. The newspaper sale is being done at the behest of a group of lenders that took over Tribune Co. as part of a bankruptcy reorganization.