Radio and TV station owner Emmis Communications has cut a deal to unload four more of its TV stations, moving it closer to its goal of exiting the TV business. SJL Broadcast Group, a mid-sized TV group based in California, and the Blackstone Group, a private investment firm, have agreed to buy KOIN Portland, KHON Honolulu, KSNW Wichita, Kan., and KSNT Topeka, Kan., for $259 million.
In late August, Emmis agreed to sell nine of its 16 stations for $681 million to LIN TV, Gray Television and the Journal Broadcast Group.
"The four latest deals are valued at about 14 times trailing cash flow, analysts said, in line with the multiples on the previous nine deals."
The latest deals bring Emmis' take so far to $1 billion. With three stations left to sell off, Emmis will likely exceed the $1.1 billion price tag analysts had projected. Emmis Chairman Jeff Smulyan projects the sales will beat estimates "by several million dollars," he told investors on a conference call Thursday.
The three remaining stations are KGMB Honolulu, WKCF Orlando and WVUE New Orleans. Smulyan said the WVUE sale has been slowed by the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina. "We'll make the right deals for those stations," he said.
WVUE, a Fox affliate, was knocked off the air for several days and forced out of its New Orleans facility. Currently, WVUE is broadcasting from sister station WALA in Mobile, Ala., although it has restored its transmitter and technical operations in New Orleans.
With the latest deal, Emmis is dismantling its duopoly in Honolulu. Analysts had expressed concern that a single buyer would have difficulty obtaining a waiver from the FCC to operate both station, which are often no. 1 and no. 2 in the market. Emmis is unloading its 16 TV stations to focus on its radio assets, which are the company's roots. Smulyan has expressed interest to Major League Baseball to buy the Washington Nationals, although he stressed that effort is separate from Emmis.
In August, LIN TV has agreed to buy WALA, as well WBPG Mobile, Ala., WTHI Terre Haute, Ind., WLUK Green Bay, Wisc., and KRQE Albuquerque for $260 million. Journal Communications agreed to pay $235 million for WFTX Fort Myers, Fla., KMTV Omaha, Beb and KGUN Tucson, Ari. Gray Television inked a $186 million deal for WSAZ Huntington/Charleston, W.Va.