Richmond-Birmingham swap closes


Raycom has added another station in its home state and Local TV Holdings has added a major Southeastern market to its roster. The swap announced in January closed as Q1 came to a close.

It seemed Raycom just couldn’t make the US Department of Justice happy. Raycom knew all along that it had to divest one of its two big four affiliates in Richmond after acquiring the Lincoln Financial Media television group. But the DOJ disapproved of a proposed sale of WTVR-TV (CBS) to Sinclair, because it would still provide sales and programming services to the market’s Fox affiliate after spinning it to a new owner. The DOJ then sued Raycom to put pressure on it to find another buyer.

That led to the deal with Local TV Holdings to swap WTVR-TV for WBRC-TV (Fox) Birmingham, AL and $83 million cash. That deal got a thumbs up from DOJ and has now closed.

“It took something special for us to give up WBRC in Birmingham.  That station is at the top of the Fox cluster and we’ll miss (GM) Lou Kirchen and her great staff.  But the opportunity to pick up WTVR, align it with our other regional stations and add some cash to the balance sheet was overwhelmingly good for our company in this environment.  Peter and everyone we’ve met at the station are first rate television professionals.  This is going to be a great ride for WTVR and Local TV Holdings,” said CEO Bobby Lawrence.

Raycom will retain WWBT-TV (NBC) in the Richmond market. It provides services for WUPV-TV (CW).