As part of a plan to auction off assets including TV stations, Tribune Co. cut a deal to sell WLVI Boston, a future CW affiliate, to Sunbeam Broadcasting for $113.7 million.
Tribune is trying to sell off $500 million worth of assets. Of its TV stations, so far, Tribune has sold WATL Atlanta, a MyNetworkTV station, to Gannett Broadcasting for $180 million. The company also has a deal to sell WCWN Albany to Freedom Communications for $17 million.
Selling WLVI is Tribune's largest market transaction so far. Boston is Nielsen's no. 7 TV market, according to the latest TV universe estimates. Tribune acquired the station from Gannett in 1994 for about $25 million.
"As an affiliate of the new CW Network, WLVI has a great future," said John Reardon, president of Tribune Broadcasting said in a statement. "With the first and longest running prime-time news serving Boston viewers, the station’s excellence has been widely recognized locally and throughout the New England broadcasting community.
The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, would give Sunbeam a duopoly in Boston, where it also owns the NBC affiliate, WHDH.
So far, Sunbeam's plans for WLVI include adding a 10 p.m. news produced by WHDH and combining the two stations into one building.
"The opportunity to create a duopoly in Boston is a big advantage," says Sunbeam chief Ed Ansin. "It creates a lot of economic benefits and we will be able to launch the '7 News at 10 on 56'."