Fox, Meredith ink deal

Duo plan Fla., Oregon station swap

News Corp.’s Fox Television Stations arm has sealed a deal to swap its Portland, Ore., UPN station for two Fox affils owned by Meredith Corp.

The exchange will give Fox a duopoly in Orlando, the nation’s No. 20 market, where it will take over ownership of WOFL-TV. Fox already owns UPN outlet WRBW-TV there. The station group has also picked up WOGX-TV in Ocala, Fla. (market No. 164).

In return, Fox will pay Meredith $8 million and hand over ownership of Portland UPN affil KPTV. Transaction will give Meredith a duopoly in Portland, where it already owns Fox affil KPDX.

KPTV broadcasts on the more desirable VHF band (channel 12) while KPDX airs over channel 49. Insiders expect Meredith to flip its Fox affiliation to KPTV, and move UPN to KPDX once the transaction is approved by the FCC.

In conjunction with the swap, Meredith has also signed a six-year affiliation deal for its Fox outlets in Portland, Greenville, S.C.-Asheville, N.C., Flint, Mich., and Bend, Ore.

A Meredith release said the transaction “is not expected to have a material financial impact on fiscal 2002 or fiscal 2003.” Deal is expected to close by June.

Fox acquired KPTV as part of its purchase of the Chris-Craft station group. The conglom has been actively swapping stations since then to meet the FCC’s current 35% station cap.

News Corp. has received a temporary waiver from the FCC to operate beyond the cap; the Meredith swap puts Fox in 38% of the country, down from 39%.

Fox operates duopolies in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington, D.C., Houston, Minneapolis and Phoenix.

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