TV M&A Deals Hit Nearly $11 Billion In 2013

When this year is over, TV stations' mergers and acquisitions will have more than quadrupled in dollar value versus 2012.

SNL Kagan says through Nov. 30, there has been a total of $10.9 billion in TV station deals, involving 270 full-power TV stations and 265 low-power TV stations. This is up from around $2 billion in 2012 and $527 million in 2011.

The reasons for the rise, per SNL Kagan, are strong balance sheets, cheap debt and the growing revenue source of retransmission fees.

Sinclair Broadcast Group was one of the busiest players -- now with a 38.7% penetration of all U.S. TV homes -- some 44.9 million U.S. TV homes.

Sinclair is the largest U.S. TV station group in the country. In 2013, it made nine TV station group deals with a total value of $2.08 billion, including acquisitions for TV outlets owned by Cox Enterprises, Barrington Broadcasting Group and Fisher Communications.

Tribune Co. was also a big player -- cutting a major deal for Local TV Holdings' 19 stations for $2.73 billion. Gannett Co. also spent heavily, buying Belo Corp. for $1.5 billion. Midsize group Nexstar Broadcasting made four deals totaling $472 million. Now it will own or operate 102 stations, reaching 15.5% of U.S. TV homes.

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