Media General Inc., the parent company for Tampa's WFLA, Channel 8, will acquire local WTTA, Channel 38, from Sinclair Broadcast Group as part of a larger deal to satisfy required divestitures as it merges with LIN Media LLC.
Virginia-based Media General will enter deals with multiple buyers for stations in five markets that regulators will require it to divest, including Birmingham, Alabama; Providence, Rhode Island/New Bedford, Massachusetts; Mobile, Alabama/Pensacola; Green Bay/Appleton, Wisconsin; and Savannah, Georgia; the companies announced in a news release.
LIN Media and Media General, which previously owned The Tampa Tribune, both own local-market broadcast television stations across the country. They announced their $1.6 billion merger on March 21.
While Media General acquires the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota WTTA, Sinclair will, in turn, acquire Media General's NBC affiliate in the Providence market and LIN Media's Fox and CW affiliates in the Green Bay market, along with assets of WTGS, the Fox affiliate in Savannah.
WTTA general manager Noreen Parker could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.
“We're pleased to announce this divestiture plan, which we believe should clear the way for our business combination with LIN Media to move forward in the regulatory approval process,” George L. Mahoney, president and chief executive officer of Media General, said in a statement. “Additionally, the purchase of the MyNetworkTV (WTTA) station in Tampa provides us with the opportunity to increase share in Media General's second largest market.”
LIN Media Chief Executive Officer Vincent L. Sadusky called the divestiture plan “an important milestone that positions us well with regulatory authorities. We are pleased with the consideration we will receive for these terrific stations and plan to use the net proceeds to reduce debt. The addition of stations in Tampa and Colorado Springs will further diversify and strengthen the combined company's portfolio as well as provide opportunities to expand our digital business.”
When LIN-Media General merger has been completed, Sadusky will become the president and CEO of the combined company, which will be known as Media General.
The new combined company will own and operate or service 71 stations across 48 markets, reaching 27.6 million or 24 percent of U.S. television households.