Raycom Buying CHNI Newspapers

Says synergy will boost local content

Raycom Media, which owns 65 TV stations, and 2 radio stations in 20 states, plans to merge with Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. (CNHI), which owns over 110 newspapers and publications in 22 states. Raycom will be the controlling partner, with CNHI a subsidiary of Raycom. In seven CNHI markets where Raycom stations would create newspaper-broadcast crossownerships that violate current FCC rules, the newspapers will be sold, according to Raycom.

The FCC is expected to vote soon to eliminate that newspaper-broadcast crossownership prohibition, but Raycom did not hedge its pledge to spin off the papers.

“While it is contrary to the trend of separating newspapers and television properties, we believe the synergies this merger creates will only enhance our ability to deliver exceptional local content, extend our community presence and grow our respective multimedia footprints,” said Raycom President Pat LaPlatney.

Raycom is wasting no time in closing the deal, projecting it will be done by Sept. 29. That is because since CNHI will be a subsidiary of Raycom and owns no TV stations, no licenses are changing hands requiring FCC vetting.

The value of the deal was not immediately available, but if the deal is closing at the end of the week, it must be under approximately $75 million or it would require an antitrust review--and clean bill of health--from Justice before it could close, and that essentially could not happen in a matter of days.