Media General cut a deal Thursday to buy four NBC stations from NBC Universal Television Group for about $600 million.
That was the amount NBC had hoped to generate when it put its four smallest market O&Os – WJAR Providence; WNCN Raleigh, N.C.; WCMH Columbus, Ohio; and WVTM Birmingham, Ala – on the block in January. The transaction represents 14 times cash flow, based on 2004-2005 figures.
“The NBC properties we are purchasing are strong stations in cities with attractive growth prospects. Our purchase of these stations is consistent with our growth strategy and will advance, in two ways, our goal of building upon our position of strength in growing Southeastern markets,” Marshall N. Morton, president and chief executive officer of Media General said in a statement. The four stations were also attractive, he said, because they are all college towns and three are state capitols.
To comply with FCC ownership limits, Media General plans to sell several of its existing stations, including its CBS affiliate in Birmingham, Ala, as well as CBS outlets KWCH Wichita, Kan; KIMT Mason City, Iowa and WDEF Chattanooga, Tenn.
The company says it will consider selling the stations separately or as a group by the end of the year.
NBC is auctioning the stations to concentrate on more duopolies and growing its Telemundo portfolio. “Media General, a financially strong company with top leadership and a long-standing commitment to meeting the needs of its communities, is an ideal owner for these outstanding stations. Employees of the four stations can look forward to significant career opportunities over the long term, and the stations’ viewers will continue to enjoy the quality news and programming they’ve come to expect,” NBC Universal Television Stations President Jay Ireland said in a statement.