Things are looking a little Gray in Vermont’s biggest city.
That’s because Gray Television has snagged the biggest CBS affiliate in the Green Mountain State.
The publicly traded broadcast TV company on Thursday (5/4) reached an agreement with the Martin family’s Mt. Mansfield Television to acquire WCAX-3, in the
Burlington, Vt.-Plattsburgh, N.Y. market (DMA No. 97).
“Gray is thrilled that the Martin family selected us as the new steward of Vermont’s very first
television station,” said Gray EVP Kevin Latek, alluding to the Martin family’s decision to put WCAX up for sale. “We will proudly build upon WCAX’s strong foundation and six decades of success as we expand into Vermont, northern New York and northern New Hampshire with another great leading local media institution.”
WCAX serves the entire state of Vermont, while sharing audience with WRGB-6 in Albany, N.Y., in southern portions of the state. WCAX is also the main CBS station seen in greater Montréal, and throughout much of Quebec, Canada.
Mt. Mansfield President Peter Martin said, “WCAX is an integral part of the
dynamic communities in which our family has lived, worked, and grown for decades. We welcome Gray to Vermont with the knowledge that its values, resources, and portfolio of similar stations will ensure that WCAX continues providing strong journalism, community leadership, and workplace excellence for many more decades to come.”
In a message appearing at WCAX.com, the Martins noted that they would not sell WCAX to just anyone and chose Gray “because they will take care of the station’s legacy.” The Martin family launched WCAX in 1954.
In a letter to employees, the Martins said they chose to sell the station because they believe they have done all they can with WCAX, and that the business of broadcast TV is changing quickly. The family says the challenges of operating a single station in a small market are “akin to being a small, open boat in an ever-intensifying storm. The threats are many and the odds of survival are shrinking.”
Gray will assume control of the station June 1. No layoffs are planned.
Gray owns or operates more than 100 television stations in 56 TV markets, and Gray says the WCAX purchase advances its “transformative growth strategy” as it continues to expand
through select acquisitions of market-leading stations “that share the culture and values of our existing television stations.”
Including expected synergies, Gray says the $29 million purchase of WCAX represents an attractive purchase price multiple of less than 6.0 times expected blended 2016-2017 pro forma broadcast cash flow.
Gray anticipates the transaction to be leverage neutral, immediately free cash flow accretive, and funded primarily through the use of cash on hand at closing and, if necessary, borrowings under its existing senior credit facility.