Providence Equity Buys Clear Channel's TV Group

The TV business, while lucrative, has faced competition from media rivals, as well as declines in key ad categories. Still, private-equity firms don't seem to mind. Once again, a big one has acquired a TV station group, with the 56-station Clear Channel operations fetching $1.2 billion in a sale to Providence Equity Partners.

Given its emphasis in the media sector, Providence Equity Partners is adding the Clear Channel group to current investments in Univision and Freedom Communications, which has nine stations.

Bank of America analyst Jonathan Jacoby wrote Friday that Clear Channel looks to have gotten a favorable deal in the TV area--he estimated the stations would go for 20% less, although a JP Morgan report said the stations might have fetched as much as $1.3 billion.

The sale includes the stations' related Web sites, digital multicast outlets (18 so far) and wireless operations. All three areas are currently slow-growth, but viewed as potential revenue expansion territory.



The portfolio houses a series of duopolies and triopolies, including two stations in top-50 markets, such as Cincinnati, Salt Lake City and Jacksonville. Twenty-seven stations are affiliated with the Big 4 networks.

Clear Channel is in the midst of sweeping efforts to transform itself, looking to go private. The entertainment company announced Friday that it is selling 161 radio stations for $331 million.

Clear Channel is hardly the only station group to benefit from flush private-equity dollars. The New York Times Co. shed its nine stations for $575 million last year. Earlier this month, Tribune opted to go private with its holdings, which include stations in the country's three largest markets.

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