DENVER — Tribune Co. has agreed to buy 19 television stations owned by Local TV Holdings, including KWGN sister station KDVR in Denver, for a deal that will make Tribune one of the largest television station groups in the country.
Tribune will buy 19 television stations owned by Local TV for $2.73 billion. The deal includes stations in Denver, Salt Lake City, Cleveland and Kansas City.
The agreement still requires approval from the Federal Communications Commission but would give Tribune 42 television stations from New York to Los Angeles and Miami to Seattle. It would make Tribune the largest affiliated station group for Fox broadcasting, owned by 21st Century Fox, with 14 stations.
The boards of both Tribune and Local TV approved the deal, which is expected to close by the end of 2013.
The acquisition is the first major purchase for Tribune since it emerged from bankruptcy protection on Dec. 31. The company said it will make the purchase through a combination of debt financing and cash on hand.
Local TV formed five years ago after the purchase of nine stations previously owned by the New York Times Co. The firm purchased seven additional stations from Fox including KDVR in 2008.
KWGN is currently owned by Tribune, but managed by Local TV LLC with the two stations sharing news gathering resources and a building at Lincoln Street and Speer Boulevard.
Tribune has owned KWGN since 1966.
The sale will keep both stations working together, but under new Tribune ownership.
“Since joining Tribune in early 2013, we have been setting the strategic foundation to transform Tribune and help chart the path forward—building our multimedia capabilities and asset portfolio to become the country’s leading independent content creator and distributor,” said Peter Liguori, Tribune’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “This is a transformational acquisition for Tribune—it makes us the #1 local TV affiliate group in America, expands the distribution platform for our high-quality video content, and extends the reach of our digital products to new audiences across the country. We couldn’t be more excited about Tribune’s future as America’s leader in creating and distributing original content and local news programming.”
Bobby Lawrence, Chief Executive Officer of Local TV, said, “Local TV and Tribune have had a long, successful relationship over the last five years. Our cultures and operating philosophies are very similar, and we share a strong commitment to news and local programming excellence. My management team will dearly miss working with some of the most talented and dedicated people in broadcasting, but we know we leave our employees in good hands. I am grateful to our partners at Oak Hill Capital, who acquired the finest stations in the industry and helped us build this great company.”