PARAMOUNT/VIACOM IN DEAL CLUSTER

Having closed a recent slew of acquisitions, the Paramount/Viacom group of TV stations is now the seventh-largest in the nation, reaching 18.4% of the country.

Over the past two years, Paramount has spent close to $400 million acquiring major market stations. Last week, Paramount/Viacom closed on its purchase of WVEU Atlanta, acquired in a swap with Ellis Communications, which acquired Viacom-owned CBS affiliate KLSA Shreveport, La.

Paramount Television Group chairman Kerry McCluggage said the company still seeks to expand. Indeed, Paramount was in the bidding war with Tribune and Chris Craft to acquire KTTY San Diego. Tribune won the station for $70 million.

“This is still a work in progress,” McCluggage said, adding that the company is keeping its growth in perspective as it expands. Before the deals, Paramount owned six stations, reaching less than 6% of the country.

Viacom was looking to sell off its station holdings but pulled them off the market earlier this year. McCluggage said the company is pleased with the performance of the Viacom stations, although he did not rule out a sale of the properties down the road.

Stations acquired by Viacom over the past two years include WGBS Philadelphia, WSBK Boston, WKBD Detroit, WVEU Atlanta and WBFS Miami. At the same time, Paramount unloaded WTXF Philadelphia to Fox, WLFL Raleigh to a subsidiary of powerful group owner Sinclair Broadcasting and KRRT San Antonio to Jet Broadcasting, which inked a local marketing agreement there with River City Broadcasting.

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