We have news to report on the local network affiliate front. Gray Television will acquire Meredith’s Local Media Group, consisting of 17 TV stations in 12 markets. Meredith will maintain ownership of its National Media Group, which includes a portfolio of magazines as well as digital and marketing assets.
The TV stations that will be transferring over to Gray TV include:
- WGCL (CBS)/WPCH (Independent), Atlanta
- KPHO (CBS)/KTVK (Independent), Phoenix
- KPTV (FOX)/KPDX (MyNetwork), Portland, Ore.
- KMOV (CBS), St. Louis
- WSMV (NBC), Nashville, Tenn.
- WFSB (CBS), Hartford-New Haven, Conn.
- KCTV (CBS)/KSMO (MyNetwork), Kansas City, Mo.
- WHNS (FOX), Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C.
- KVVU (FOX), Las Vegas
- WALA (FOX), Mobile, Ala.
- WNEM (CBS), Flint-Saginaw, Mich.
- WGGB (ABC & FOX)/WSHM-LD (CBS), Springfield, Mass.
The only hang-up might be the WNEM acquisition, since Gray already owns WJRT-TV in the same market. Gray says it will sell WJRT to an independent third party. The deal gives Gray the top-rated television station in 79 markets.
Local affiliate consolidation has been the name of the game lately. Companies like Sinclair have swallowed up small stations around the country. In some cases, that provides additional resources and stability for a local station. In other cases, the parent company has interfered with the editorial direction of the affiliate, as illustrated in this piece from John Oliver.
Deals like this can also affect sports fans, since these new groups of affiliates are more apt to pick carriage fights with live TV streaming services. That Atlanta affiliate would likely carry Falcons football games, for example. Will the new ownership result in a streaming stalemate at some point?
“The television station portfolios, company cultures, and commitments to localism of Gray and Meredith are highly complementary,” Gray’s Executive Chairman and CEO Hilton H. Howell said in a statement on Monday. “We are very excited to acquire Meredith’s excellent television stations, and we look forward to welcoming its employees into the Gray family. Moreover, Gray’s Board and shareholders are deeply appreciative of the tireless efforts of our team led by Kevin Latek and Jim Ryan on this transaction and our other recently announced significant transactions. 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!”