Politico Owner Puts TV Stations on the Block

Plans to invest more in Politico and other new media

Longtime TV owner Allbritton Communications is looking to get out of the TV business to devote all its resources to Politico and other new media. Robert Allbritton, the 44-year-old publisher of Politico, revealed his plans in a memo to employees this morning.

The Washington, D.C.-based company retained Moelis & Co. LLC as its financial advisor in seeking a buyer for the company's seven ABC affiliates, including WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C., and cable channel NewsChannel 8.

In a memo to employees, Allbritton made it very clear that Politico was the future of the company and that there was absolutely no chance the D.C. journo would go on the block.

"There is no chance, none, I will sell Politico as part of the deal. My future is Politico and companies like it. In fact, my plan is to invest even more in Politico and to place additional bets on media companies that meet my definition of successful journalistic and business enterprises," Allbritton said, calling it "the textbook definition of a thriving, sustainable new media company."

Politico, Allbritton said, carries no debt and will turn a profit in 2013.

As for why he would like to exit the TV business, Allbritton blamed lack of scale. "This industry is in the midst of rapid consolidation, and there are some clear advantages that come with increased scale. I want to ensure that our stations are well-positioned to continue their extraordinary success and participate in all of the new prospects for broadcasting going forward," Allbritton said.

In addition to the Washington, D.C. station, Allbritton owns TV stations in Birmingham, Ala.; Harrisburg, Penn.; Little Rock, Ark.; Tulsa, Okla.; Lynchburg, Va.; and Charleston, W.Va.

Allbritton Communications has a long history in the nation's capital beginning 30 years ago when Allbritton's father, Joe, bought the TV stations and The Washington Star. New Federal Communications Commission rules forced Allbritton to divest either the paper or WJLA in the '70s, and Allbritton chose to stick with TV. Joe Allbritton died last December at 87.