Radio and TV station owner Emmis Communications has sold off six of its 16 television stations, moving the company one step closer towards its goal of divesting in television and focusing on its radio properties.
In one deal, LIN Television has acquired four Emmis stations—WALA Mobile, Ala., WTHI Terre Haute, Ind., WLUK Green Bay, Wis., and KRQE Albuquerque. The company will also operate Mobile’s WB affiliate, WBPG, while it waits for FCC approval to form a duopoly in the market. The total sale price for the five stations was $260 million.
Separately, Gray Television has completed its $186 million acquisition of WSAZ in Huntington-Charleston, W.Va.
Next week, Emmis says it expects to close a $235 million deal with Journal Communications has bought WFTX Fort Myers, Fla.,and KGUN Tucson, Aria., and some assets of KMTV Omaha.
Emmis reached all three deals in August. One month later, it cut pacts to sell four more stations—KOIN Portland, Ore., KHON Honolulu, KSNW Wichita, Kan., and KSNT Topeka, Kan. – to the Blackstone Group and SJL Broadcast for $259 million. Those sales are pending FCC approval.
Only three unclaimed stations remain in the Emmis stable. Each has sticking points. The company owns New Orleans Fox affiliate WVUE; that market’s future is uncertain after Hurricane Katrina devastated the region in August and hundreds of thousands of residents fled. Emmis is looking for a buyer for its second station in Honolulu, CBS affiliate KGMB, where a single buyer would have difficulty winning FCC approval to buy the Emmis duopoly. The last remaining station is WKCF, the WB affiliate in Orlando, Fla., which is a top WB affiliate and will likely fetch a heathy price.