Gray Television has been actively scooping up TV stations for the past several years. The addition of Meredith’s broadcast assets in Atlanta, Phoenix, Nashville, Portland, Ore., and other mid-sized markets will bring Gray’s holdings to 101 outlets serving 113 markets, reaching 36% of U.S. TV households.
Des Moines-based Meredith, meanwhile, is slimming down to focus on its magazine publishing and digital assets. The company that is now home to Entertainment Weekly and People will spin off its National Media Group unit to existing shareholders as part of the transaction with Gray. Gray will pay $14.50 per share in cash to acquire Meredith. After the spinoff, the total enterprise value of the transaction for Gray will be $2.7 billion.
“The television station portfolios, company cultures and commitments to localism of Gray and Meredith are highly complementary. We are very excited to acquire Meredith’s excellent television stations, and we look forward to welcoming its employees into the Gray family,” said Gray CEO Hilton Howell said. “Building on our successes throughout 2020 and just the first few months of 2021, Gray Television clearly has an even stronger and brighter future than ever.”
Gray just last week set a deal with Byron Allen Media to sell off seven stations that it acquired through its $925 million buyout of of Quincy Media Inc. Gray has also beefed up its in-house production capabilities with its investment in Atlanta-based Swirl Films and its own Tupelo Honey banner.
The only overlap between Gray and Meredith is in the Flint, Mich., market, where Meredith owns CBS affiliate WNEM and Gray has ABC affiliate WJRT. Gray said it would sell off WJRT to comply with FCC rules that limit the number of stations that a company or individual can own in a given market.
The Gray-Meredith deal is expected by close by year’s end. The transaction will leave Gray with a high leverage ratio of 5.3 times annual earnings. The company’s long-term debt load stood at nearly $4 billion as of December.
Here’s a full list of the stations to be acquired by Gray:
- WGCL (CBS) / WPCH (Independent), Atlanta, Georgia (DMA 7)
- KPHO (CBS) / KTVK (Independent), Phoenix, Arizona (DMA 11)
- KPTV (FOX) / KPDX (MyNetwork), Portland, Oregon (DMA 21)
- KMOV (CBS), St. Louis, Missouri (DMA 23)
- WSMV (NBC), Nashville, Tennessee (DMA 29)
- WFSB (CBS), Hartford-New Haven, Connecticut (DMA 32)
- KCTV (CBS) / KSMO (MyNetwork), Kansas City, Missouri, (DMA 34)
- WHNS (FOX), Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina (DMA 35)
- KVVU (FOX), Las Vegas, Nevada (DMA 40)
- WALA (FOX), Mobile, Alabama (DMA 57)
- WNEM (CBS), Flint-Saginaw, Michigan (DMA 73)
- WGGB (ABC & FOX) / WSHM-LD (CBS), Springfield, Massachusetts (DMA 116)