Tribune may sell two Southern stations

Estimates peg value of properties at $175 mil

Tribune Broadcasting has retained Merrill Lynch to evaluate the sale prospects for its TV stations in Atlanta and New Orleans.

The decision was prompted by a number of unsolicited offers that Tribune has recently received for the CBS affil WGNX Atlanta and the ABC affil WGNO in New Orleans.

Sources say Tribune isn’t particularly anxious to sell the stations, but would consider swapping them for other outlets that would be a better fit with the WB and Fox affils that comprise the rest of the 19 stations in the group. Tribune owns a 25% stake in the WB weblet.

Tribune acquired WGNX Atlanta, the nation’s 10th largest TV market, for $32 million in 1983, the same year it bought WGNO New Orleans (market No. 41) for $21 million. Conservative estimates peg the value of the two stations today at upward of $175 million.

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