Atlanta-based Gray Television has agreed to acquire Montgomery, Alabama-based Raycom Media in a deal worth $3.65 billion, according to both companies on Monday. The merger, which is expected to close later this year, is the latest in a series of transactions as TV station companies consolidate in order to gain national reach.
The combined company will include 142 full-power television stations serving 92 markets, which will become the country’s third-largest portfolio of stations and markets reaching 24% of U.S. television households. Markets the new company will cover range from Tampa-Sarasota, Fla.; Cleveland, Ohio; and Charlotte, N.C.; to such small markets as Fairbanks, Alaska, and North Platte, Nebraska.
Gray will divest itself of nine stations in nine markets where there is overlap.
Overall, the deal is expected to easily gain regulatory approval since the combined company will be nowhere near the national ownership cap.
Gray also will acquire several Raycom-owned businesses, including Raycom Sports, a marketing, production and events management and distribution company; Tupelo Raycom, a sports and entertainment production company; RTM Productions, an automotive programming production and marketing solutions company; and Broadview Media, a post-production and digital signage company.
Raycom is selling Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., which owns newspapers and information products located in 23 states, as well as digital ad platform PureCars. Neither of those companies are included in the transaction.
Raycom President and CEO Pat La Platney will join Gray’s board and become president and co-chief executive officer, while Raycom’s Paul McTear will join Gray’s board of directors. Hilton H. Howell, Jr., who currently leads Gray, will become executive chairman and co-chief executive officer of Gray.
“Today, we announce the transformation of Gray Television into a true leader in the broadcast television industry,” said Howell, Gray’s chairman, president and CEO, in a statement. “Combining our company with the excellent Raycom stations and the superb Raycom employees will create a powerhouse local media operation. Together, this new portfolio of leading local media outlets will excel at what they do best, which is to provide the local news that local communities trust, the entertainment and sports content that viewers crave, and the incredible reach that advertisers demand.”
“We are thrilled to be joining Gray Television as we share the same core values of journalistic excellence and community service,” said Pat LaPlatney, Raycom Media’s president and CEO, also in a statement. “Together, we will be a stronger, more impactful force for our audiences, advertisers, and communities.
Bob Smith and Nick Waller, who currently serve as co-chief operating officers of Gray, will become chief operating officer and chief administrative officer, respectively, as of July 1.
In his new role, Smith will oversee station and sales operations through the close of the transaction, while Waller will oversee human resources, information technology, traffic and CRM systems, among other things.