Hearst-Argyle nabs Granite state ABC affil

Firm to pay $185 mil in hot primary region

Hearst-Argyle Television said Thursday it has agreed to pay $185 million in cash for a news-heavy ABC affiliate in Manchester, N.H., that’s known for its quadrennial coverage of the Granite State’s presidential primary campaigns.

The New York-based broadcaster, which currently owns 26 television stations, said it will fund the acquisition of WMUR-TV from closely held Imes Communications in part through $160 million in proceeds anticipated from the sale of three Phoenix radio stations to Emmis Communications. The WMUR transaction is expected to close in the first quarter.

“WMUR is one of America’s best television stations,” Hearst-Argyle chairman Bob Marmut said. “It is a news leader which has earned the loyalty and respect of viewers and advertisers throughout New Hampshire and other portions of New England.”

New Hampshire’s only VHF station, WMUR operates a facilities network that allows its newscasts to reach the entire state. The station is licensed for Manchester and included in the Boston designated marked area, the nation’s sixth-largest TV market.

Hearst-Argyle also operates ABC affiliate WCVB in nearby Needham, Mass.

The company announced its acquisition agreement after the close of market trading. Hearst-Argyle shares closed up 44¢ at $22.69 on Thursday.

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