Two Peoria TV stations part of corporate shuffle

The corporation that owns WMBD-TV 31 and WYZZ-TV 43 could become the largest local TV station owner in the country if its proposed acquisition of Tribune Media is approved by the Federal Communications Commission.

Texas-based Nexstar Media Group on Dec. 3 announced its intention to buy the 42 TV stations Tribune has been offering to sell for more than a year. The purchase would expand Nexstar’s presence from 171 TV stations in 100 U.S. markets to 216 stations in 118 markets.

The takeover could raise Nexstar’s local and national standing, but Nexstar will probably need to divest some stations to meet FCC’s national ownership limit (which prohibits one company from reaching more than 39 percent of TV households) and to be eligible for the FCC’s approval. That could mean anything from a new owner for the Peoria stations, to investment and expansion or staff layoffs.

“Nexstar has long viewed the acquisition of Tribune Media as a strategically, financially and operationally compelling opportunity that brings immediate value to shareholders of both companies,” he said.

Nexstar currently owns stations in Champaign/Urbana (purchased in 1999), Des Moines (2013), Green Bay (2011), Indianapolis (2017), LaCrosse, Wis. (2014), the Quad Cities (2013) and Rockford (2003).

Founded in 1996 as Nexstar Broadcasting Group, the corporation under terms of the proposed purchase would get Tribune’s WGN-TV and radio stations in Chicago plus stations in Los Angeles and New York, plus “super-station” WGN America and a 31-percent stake in the Food Network, according to Nexstar, which said the $4.1 billion transaction has a total value of $6.4 billion counting Tribune’s outstanding debt.

In August, talks with the Right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group to purchase Tribune’s stations for $3.9 billion fell apart. The Tribune announced plans to sue Sinclair, stating it had breached its contract after allegedly misleading regulators when the FCC called for public hearings about the merger.

Bill Knight

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