E.W. Scripps, Journal Communications Merge Broadcast, Spin Off Newspapers

This week brought a novel corporate merger in the media world, as E.W. Scripps and Journal Communications, publisher of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, announced plans for twin spinoffs and mergers, consolidating their broadcast properties and newspapers in two separate companies.

Under the terms of the deal, the E.W. Scripps Company will take over Journal Communications’ nine local broadcast TV stations and eight radio stations across the country. The TV portfolio includes stations in Boise, ID, Fort Myers, FL, Green Bay and Milwaukee, WI, Lansing, MI, Las Vegas, NV, Nashville, TN, Omaha, NE, and Tucson AZ. Together, the radio and TV stations will give E.W. Scripps a presence in a total of 27 markets across the country, with expected revenues of over $800 million per year.

E.W. Scripps will remain under the control of the Scripps family shareholders and continue to be headquartered in Cincinnati.

At the same time, both companies will spin off their newspapers, which will then merge to form a new company, Journal Media Group, headquartered in Milwaukee and with newspapers in 14 markets across the U.S.



Under the terms of the deal, Scripps shareholders will own 69% of the new, combined broadcasting company and 59% of the combined newspaper publishing company, with Journal Communications shareholders owning the remainder. Scripps shareholders will also receive a one-time $60 million cash dividend.

The mergers are expected to generate about $35 million in savings for the companies.

This is just the latest in a series of mergers and acquisitions by media companies looking to spin off newspaper publishing operations bedeviled by the collapse of print advertising revenue, in order to focus on still-profitable broadcast TV operations.

The list of deals includes Tribune Co.’s $2.73 billion acquisition of Local TV in December 2013, increasing 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.

Also in December 2013, Gannett acquired 20 Belo TV broadcast properties for $1.5 billion plus the assumption of $715 million in debt, nearly doubling the number of stations in its broadcast portfolio.

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