Lincoln spins out of Charlotte, sells TV


Some of the old Jefferson-Pilot stations acquired by Lincoln Financial have been resold, representing well over half a billion dollars in trading value. Television stations in three markets are headed for Raycom, and a powerful three-station cluster in Charlotte NC is headed for Greater Media. One of Raycom’s acquisitions is also in Charlotte.

In Charlotte, Greater Media gets legendary Newser WBT AM & FM and FM Talker WLNK-FM for 100M. It represents a rare move for the privately owned radio group which is one of the dwindling number of big market operators already in existence prior to the first round of radio dereg in 1992. "Charlotte is a huge growth market and gives us a strong presence in the Southeast to balance our successful markets in the Northeast," said President/CEO Peter Smyth. "We’ve met with the team in Charlotte and think they will be a great fit with the Greater Media family." The cluster will join station in Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia and parts of New Jersey in the Greater Media portfolio.

Raycom will get WBTV-TV CBS 3 in Charlotte, along with WWBT-TV NBC 12 in Richmond VA and WCSC-TV CBS 5 in Charleston SC. The price is 583M. The trio of stations dovetails nicely with the rest of the Raycom portfolio, perhaps too nicely in Richmond, where Raycom already owns WTVR-TV CBS 6 and offers a helping hand to WUPV-TV CW 65 under terms of a shared services agreement (SSA).

RBR/TVBR observation: Our sources say the pricing for each deal works out to north of 14 times expected 2007 broadcast cash flow, so pretty strong multiples despite the tough credit market. However, it appears the bidding wasn’t as strong in the current environment for the other radio clusters. On the radio side, Lincoln is still peddling an old-fashioned AM-FM combo in Atlanta, an AM and two FMs in Miami, four FMs in San Diego and a two-AM, three-FM cluster in Denver. Raycom took the entire Lincoln television portfolio, so Lincoln doesn’t have any TV left to sell. But we don’t see any way Raycom can hang on to everything in Richmond – and its usual virtual duopoly partner, Southeastern Media Holdings, already owns WUPV. So, it will be interesting to see how Raycom handles Richmond.