Murdoch looks to sell nine markets


In a surprise move, News Corporation announced late yesterday that it is looking to sell nine of its Fox O&O stations. The move comes as Rupert Murdoch is seeking to acquire Dow Jones & Co. and launch a new Fox Business Channel, so maybe some portfolio trimming isn't so surprising after all.

News Corporation said it has retained Allen & Co. to assist it in selling: WJW-TV Cleveland, OH; KDVR-TV Denver, CO; KTVI-TV St. Louis, MO; WDAF-TV Kansas City, MO-KS; WITI-TV Milwaukee, WI; KSTU-TV Salt Lake City, UT; WBRC-TV Birmingham, AL; WHBQ-TV Memphis, TN; and WGHP-TV Greensboro, NC.

SmartMedia observation: We recall that just a few years back Jeff Smulyan was trying to buy the smaller market stations from Fox, but the deal never got done and, ultimately, it contributed to Emmis deciding to exit the television business completely. We also note that the list of stations to be divested, strangely, does not include the two very smallest markets in the Fox station group, Austin, TX and Gainesville, FL. What's up with that? The divestiture list, running from markets #17 to #47, also skips over Orlando and Baltimore.