Media General spins off Tampa newspaper


Media GeneralThe Tampa Tribune and related assets are now owned by Tampa Media Group in a deal that completes television group owner Media General’s exit from the newspaper business.

The price is $9.5M. Media General is not only announcing the deal, it is announcing the closing on the deal.

The buyer is a new company formed by Revolution Capital Group.

“It’s a bittersweet day for Media General to complete the sale of its last remaining newspaper group,” said Marshall N. Morton, president and chief executive officer. “The Tampa Tribune was our largest and second oldest newspaper. Many Tribune employees have decades of service. The Tribune staff has been extraordinarily dedicated to providing their readers with excellent journalism, creating value for their advertisers and supporting the local community. We are pleased that they will have the opportunity for continued future success serving the Tampa community with excellent local content. We will miss our colleagues at The Tribune and its associated print and digital platforms, and we wish them the very best.”

Robert Loring, founder and managing partner of Revolution Capital Group, said, “We are delighted to be the new owner of The Tampa Tribune, a newspaper with strong brand equity and a long history of serving its readers, advertisers and community exceedingly well. We believe strongly in the value of local content.”

Morton underscored the new profile of his company, saying, “With this transaction, we complete the transformation of Media General’s business model to one focused on broadcast television and digital media. We believe our future prospects are strong, based on operating 18 top-ranked local television stations in growing and important markets, mostly in the Southeast. In addition, our financial position was greatly strengthened this year as a result of our new financing arrangement with Berkshire Hathaway.”

RBR-TVBR observation: There is something about this deal that you will never, ever see in a broadcast transaction. There is no way that a broadcast transaction could go from initial announcement to closing in a single press release. There’s this process known as FCC review, which also provides time for the public at large to weigh in, which puts at least about 90 days between filing an application with the Commission and getting approval. Of course, it often takes much longer than that to bring a transaction to the finish line.

The government role in a broadcast transaction exists because spectrum is considered to be a scarce public resource and is therefore subject to FCC regulation. Paper, on the other hand, is available to anybody who has enough money to pay for it, meaning that anybody can attempt to start up a newspaper at any time.