Byron Allen Grabs Bob Prather’s Eleven Broadcast TV Stations

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Of all of the broadcast media buyers to make headlines in recent years, none has perhaps been more well-known to everyday Americans as Byron Allen. Forty years ago, he was part of a team of anchor/reporters on what was perhaps one of the first reality series to air in prime-time, NBC’s Real People. 


Now, he’s a media mogul who is adding more broadcast TV properties to his empire of assets.

Allen’s Allen Media Broadcasting has agreed to purchase 11 broadcast television stations from Bob Prather-led USA Television Holdings LLC and USA Television MidAmerica Holdings LLC (collectively, USA TV) for $290 million.

A Form 314 filing with the FCC is expected to appear in the CDBS later this week.

Upon FCC approval and closing, Allen will own the following stations:

DMA
Rank

City of License

Station(s)

Affiliation

79

Huntsville – Decatur – Florence, AL

WAAY  WAAY-D2

ABC – ION

104

Ft. Wayne, IN

WFFT

FOX

123

Eugene, OR

KEZI  KEZI-D2  KEZI-D3

ABC – ION – METV

132

Chico-Redding, CA

KNVN*  KNVN-DT2*  KHSL  KHSL-D2 
KHSL-D5

NBC – TELEMUNDO – CBS – CW – ION

133

Columbus-Tupelo-West Point, MS

WTVA  WLOV*  WTVA-D2

NBC – FOX – ABC

135

Medford-Klamath Falls, OR

KDRV  KRDV-D2

ABC – ANTENNA TV

154

Rochester, MN – Mason City, IA – Austin, MN

KIMT  KIMT-D2  KIMT-D3

CBS – MYTV – ION

158

Terre Haute, IN

WTHI  WTHI-D2  WTHI-D3

CBS – FOX – MYTV – CW

188

Lafayette, IN

WLFI  WLFI-D2  WLFI-D3

CBS – CW – ION

*Operated through joint sales and services agreement

 

The purchase marks the second that will make Allen the 100% owner and licensee of a group of broadcast TV stations.

HOOSIER HEAVY ENTRY

As RBR+TVBR first reported in May, Bayou City Broadcasting — helmed by DuJuan McCoy — sold its assets in both Evansville, Ind., and Lafayette, La., to Allen Media Broadcasting in a stock sale transaction valued at $165 million.

The transaction sent to Allen the following properties:

  • Dual CBS/FOX affiliate WEVV-44 in Evansville, Ind.
  • FOX affiliate KADN-15 and NBC affiliate KLAF-LD 46 (simulcast on KADN-15.2) in Lafayette, La.

The WEVV-44 acquisition is noteworthy, as Allen Media will operate in four Indiana DMAs once both transactions are done.

At the same time, Allen Media is getting a strong presence in the Pacific Northwest by entering Chico and Redding, Calif.; and Medford-Ashland and Eugene, Ore.

The USA TV portfolio acquisition follows a number of recent transformative transactions executed by Allen. Perhaps the biggest to date involves 21 Regional Sports Networks (RSNs). In August, it became known that Allen agreed to become an equity and content partner in the newly formed indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group and indirect parent of Diamond Sports Group LLC that successfully acquired the RSNs from Walt Disney/FOX Corporation for $10.6 billion.

Not bad for an individual who has been a NATPE Miami stalwart for years and first gained attention in March 2018 when he acquired The Weather Channel and its Local Now streaming service through his Allen Media LLC.

A CONTINUED HOME WITH HEARTLAND 

Prather is known by many in the TV industry as the former CEO of Gray Television.

He exited June 22, 2013, with Hilton Howell Jr. assuming his duties. By October, he had resurfaced as the principal executive of Heartland Media.

Heartland is the operator of the USA TV stations, and does so through a joint venture with MSouth Equity Partners.

While Allen’s group will take on ownership, Heartland will continue to manage the day-to-day operations of the stations.

In prepared comments, USA Television CEO Prather said, “I have known Byron Allen for decades and we are delighted that these stations will now be part of his dynamic company, and that Heartland management will continue to guide them. These stations are dedicated to their local communities and this transaction will enable them to become even stronger on both their broadcast and digital platforms.”

Allen, who formally holds the title of founder and Chairman/CEO of Entertainment Studios/Allen Media LLC, hinted that he’s not done adding broadcast TV stations to his growing empire of media properties.

“This is another milestone for our company, as we have now agreed to purchase our second broadcast network affiliate station group within the past three months, and continue to aggressively look for other opportunities to grow our global media company through strategic acquisitions,” he said.

RBC Capital Markets acted as sole financial advisor to Allen Media Group, a company Mr. Allen started in his home dining room in 1993. The Entertainment Studios divisions now include broadcast television network affiliates, streaming services, broadcast television syndication, production and distribution of 64 television programs, nine 24/7 HD television networks, theatrical motion picture production, acquisition and global distribution, digital movie acquisition and distribution, and global news publishing – making Allen Media Group one of the largest privately-held media companies in the world.

Latham & Watkins LLP, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP and Loeb & Loeb LLP acted as legal advisors to Allen Media Group.

Moelis & Company, LLC was the exclusive financial advisor to USA TV and Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP provided legal services in connection with the transaction.

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