Tribune Co. has completed its $2.73 billion acquisition of Local TV, the company announced Friday, closing a deal that increases Tribune’s TV portfolio to 39 local broadcast stations reaching
about 50 million households in markets across the U.S. The deal includes stations in Denver, Cleveland, St. Louis, Kansas City, Salt Lake City and Milwaukee, among other markets.
marks the completion of a five-month process that began in July, when the planned transaction was first announced. The Federal Communications Commission approved the acquisition on Dec. 20, after
several months of review.
In addition to taking direct control of 16 stations, Tribune will provide operational services to another three stations, previously owned by Local TV. They are
being transferred to a company called Dreamcaster Broadcasting to comply with FCC rules on local media ownership.
Dreamcaster, led by former Tribune Broadcasting president Ed Wilson,
purchased the stations in Virginia and Pennsylvania for $27 million. The deal gives Tribune an exclusive option to buy back the stations at a later date; regulatory approval for this step would likely
depend on Tribune divesting its local newspapers in those markets, as planned.
Tribune CEO Peter Liguori stated: “This is a transformational acquisition for Tribune, providing
us with significant scale to drive our business objectives and create substantial shareholder value.”
Meantime, Tribune is pressing ahead with plans to spin off its ailing
publishing unit as a standalone business sometime in the first half of 2014. The spinoff, announced earlier this year, will complete the media company’s strategic shift from a mixed publishing
and broadcast business to a broadcast and digital focus, including the local stations, cable network WGN America, a stake in the Food Network and online businesses like Classified Ventures and
In February,Tribune indicated its willingness to sell its newspapers, including the flagship Chicago Tribune
and Los Angeles Times
, but the proposed
auction failed to generate attractive offers in light of tax liabilities, prompting the company to switch to the spinoff plan in July.