Allen Media Broadcasting LLC has purchased Gray TV’s Flint-Saginaw, Michigan ABC affiliate WJRT for $70 million in cash.
Gray said the sale “facilitates regulatory approvals” for its planned acquisition of Meredith’s Local Media Group by removing the only market overlap between the two station groups.
“We are delighted to win the process to add this wonderful local television station and its great employees to the fast-growing Allen Media Group family,” said Byron Allen, founder, chairman and CEO of Allen Media Group. “Over the past year-and-a-half, we’ve invested close to $1 billion to acquire best-in-class, top-tier, broadcast network affiliates and we plan to invest approximately ten billion dollars to acquire more ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX television stations over the next two years with the goal of being the largest broadcast television group in America. All of our media assets will work in concert to amplify our free streaming service, Local Now.
Once the sale is final, Allen Media will own and operate 24 local television stations in 20 markets, as well as 12 television networks, including The Weather Channel and the free streaming service Local Now.
The sale paves the way for Gray’s planned purchase of Meredith’s Local Media Group for $2.7 billion, which the station announced in May. That purchase, if approved by regulators, would add 17 stations to Gray’s portfolio, making the company the second-largest local TV broadcaster in the US.
“Having to divest WJRT-TV, which we have proudly owned for the past seven years, in order to facilitate our purchase of Meredith’s television stations is bittersweet,” said Gray executive chairman and CEO Hilton H. Howell. “The wonderful WJRT TV staff has done an exemplary job serving the Flint-Saginaw community, and we are disappointed to lose them. Nevertheless, we are excited that Byron Allen and his team will follow us as the next dedicated stewards of this fine television station.”
The closing for the sale of WJRT is expected to occur in the third or fourth quarter of 2021 prior to the closing of the Gray/Meredith transaction and is subject to customary closing conditions. WJRT general manager Pete Veto is expected to remain with Gray after the sale closes and will be named to a new position that Gray will announce at a later date.