Tribune’s $2.73 billion buy of Local TV makes it the country’s largest commercial TV station owners, the company announced. The deal, approved by the FCC last week and first announced in July, adds 19 television stations in 16 markets to Tribune’s 23 stations. The combined portfolio will reach 50 million households.
As part of the deal, and to pass cross-ownership rules, the Commission approved the transfer of broadcast licenses for three Local TV stations in Wilkes-Barre, PA, and Norfolk, VA, to Dreamcatcher Broadcasting LLC. Tribune will operate those stations under an SSA with an exclusive option to buy them back.
“The increase in scale of Tribune broadcasting promises to enhance every aspect of our business including our relationships with programmers, advertisers, and cable and satellite partners,” Peter Liguori, Tribune’s president and CEO, said in a memo to employees. “As our industry continues to evolve, we will be in a position to work together to define the Tribune of the future.”
Tribune emerged last December from a four-year stay in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In addition to the TV stations, the company owns national cable channel WGN America; WGN-AM 720; eight daily newspapers including the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times; and other media assets.
Earlier this month, the company filed a registration statement with the SEC to spin off its publishing business, likely during the first half of 2014.