Nexstar Plans To Sell WNEP-TV
WBRE-TV owner Nexstar Media Group has identified WNEP-TV as one of three stations it intends to sell so that its acquisition of Tribune Media can obtain regulatory approvals, according to a FCC filing.
Nexstar has agreed to buy Tribune Media Co., the parent company of WNEP-TV, in a $4.1 billion deal that would create the nation’s largest owner of local television stations, the companies previously announced in December.
The deal must still be approved by federal regulators as well as shareholders.
To gain regulatory approvals, Nexstar also plans to sell two other stations: WTKR-TV in Norfolk, Virginia and WGNT-TV in Portsmouth, Virginia.
In all, Nexstar intends to divest stations in 11 other markets as well but the first stations going on the block that were made public were WNEP-TV, WTKR-TV and WGNT-TV.
According to the filing, Nexstar has identified overlaps where it can’t own but Tribune and Nexstar stations because of local ownership rules and that includes the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton market.
Other markets include Harrisburg; Davenport, Iowa; Des Moines, Iowa; Fort Smith, Arkansas; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Hartford, Connecticut; Huntsville, Alabama; Indianapolis, Indiana; Memphis, Tennessee; Richmond, Virginia and Salt Lake City, Utah.
The filing did not yet indicate which station or stations in other overlapping markets will be sold.
Nexstar said in the filing that there will be other stations sold to conform to the government national ownership cap, but those stations and markets have not yet been identified.
In a memo to employees, Peter Kern, CEO of Tribune, said “we will get more clarity in the next several weeks about the specific divestitures Nexstar intends to make.”
Irving, Texas-based Nexstar’s portfolio is composed of 174 stations, including affiliates of NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox.
Nexstar acquired WBRE, an NBC affiliate, in January 1998. It also operates CBS affiliate WYOU under a shared services agreement with owner Mission Broadcasting.
Chicago-based Tribune Media owns and operates 42 local stations reaching about 50 million households.
Nexstar expects to close the transaction in the third quarter of 2019.