Meredith rounds up First Media stations

Meredith Corp. has emerged as the winner of a bidding contest for four TV stations owned by First Media Television, snapping up the outlets for $435 million in cash and debt.

First Media, a privately held company majority-owned by the Marriott family, is selling WCPX Orlando, a CBS affil; Fox affiliate WHNS Greenville-Asheville, N.C.; KPDX Portland, Ore., a Fox station licensed in Vancouver, Wash.; and KFXO Bend, Ore., a low-power station that operates as a satellite to KPDX.

As the latest example of rapid consolidation and escalating prices for station groups, First Media’s sale attracted interest from several prospective buyers, including Gannett Broadcasting, Post Newsweek Stations and Sunbeam Television (Daily Variety, Jan. 23). Scripps Howard also was said to be interested in First Media, but bowed out as the price escalated, sources said.

With the deal, Meredith, which currently owns seven stations, will move from 5% to nearly 8% coverage of U.S. households. Best known as the Des Moines-based publisher of Better Homes & Gardens magazine, Meredith has steadily added to its station lineup, and now holds CBS affils in Phoenix, Kansas City and Flint, Mich.; an NBC station in Nashville; and Fox affils serving Orlando, Las Vegas and Gainesville, Fla.

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