Two Fox affiliates in Georgia will soon be under new management.
Seattle-based Fisher Communications Inc., which has had the stations on the block
since at least August (when an earlier deal fell through), has reached an
agreement in principle, subject to Federal Communications Commission approval,
to sell WFXG-TV Augusta and WXTX-TV Columbus, both Georgia, to Southeastern
Media Holdings for $40 million in cash.
Southeastern, headed by Thomas B. Henson, has no other broadcast interests.
Kalil & Co. brokered the deal.
Fisher, which will still own 10 television and 28 radio stations, said it
will use the proceeds to pay down debt.
It will wind up losing $17 million after taxes on the sale, however.
Fisher incurred debt in the 1990s while transforming itself from a flour
miller to a media company with holdings, in addition to the stations, including a
programming arm, Fisher Entertainment, and a satellite-services company, Fisher
According to Fisher spokesman Christopher Wheeler, geography, as well as debt
service, was a motivating factor in the sale.
Fisher picked up the two Georgia stations in an 11-station deal with Retlaw Communications
in summer 1999.
They "don't fit with the Northwest profile" of Fisher's other TV holdings,
Wheeler said, declining to confirm or deny a Reuters report that the Fisher
board was entertaining offers for the entire group.