Tribune Company is buying Cincinnati-based Local TV Holdings—and its 19 television stations in key markets—for $2.73 billion in cash, the companies said in a statement this morning. Coupled with Tribune’s 42 stations across the country, the transaction makes Tribune the largest U.S. commercial TV station operator.
Tribune’s acquisition of Local TV is a key strategic step, the companies said, providing Tribune with significant scale "to maximize national and local advertising opportunities and take advantage of a larger footprint, across which it will distribute its video and digital content, especially that created by the recently launched Tribune Studios and Tribune Digital Ventures, as well as its best-in-class journalism."
The acquisition will also likely lead to "more meaningful conversations" with affiliates about distribution, the companies said, and creates new advertising opportunities in key political battleground states.
"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," Peter Liguori, Tribune’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
Principally owned by private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners, Local TV was launched in 2007 with the acquisition of nine TV stations from the New York Times Co. In 2008, Local TV purchased eight Fox-owned stations from News Corp. In addition to its own stations, Local TV operated two Tribune Co. stations: KWGN-TV in Denver and KPLR-TV in St. Louis. Last year, Tribune Company emerged from a lengthy bankruptcy with a victory: It was granted waivers to Federal Communications Commission media cross-ownership rules in five markets.
Tribune’s broadcast portfolio will include 14 CW affiliates, 14 Fox affiliates, five CBS affiliates, three ABC affiliates, two NBC affiliates and four independents. Tribune will own 14 stations in the country’s top 20 markets. It will become the No. 1 Fox affiliate group, expand its position as the No. 1 CW affiliate group and add market-leading stations in prime cities such as Denver, Cleveland, St. Louis, Kansas City, Salt Lake City and Milwaukee.