Tegna, Hearst and EW Scripps are all planning on submitting final offers for Cox Media Group’s 14 TV stations at the end of January, according to people familiar with the matter. Final bids are due by Jan. 30, said the people, who asked not to be named because the process is private. A deal could fetch more than $2 billion, and possibly close to $3 billion, the people said.
The group reups WGBA Green Bay, Wis.; WTMJ Milwaukee; KJRH Tulsa, Okla.; WPTV West Palm Beach, Fla.; and KSHB Kansas City, Mo.
The spinoffs from the Gray-Raycom merger brings Scripps’ holdings to 36 TV stations in 26 markets and gives Scripps its first stations in Texas and expands its Florida presence.
All of E.W. Scripps stations will use Comscore’s television currency and will also use Comscore’s advanced automotive and political demographic currencies to sell the value and relevance, rather than just the size, of its audiences.
With the closing of the $8 million sale of eight stations to Lotus Communications, Scripps has gotten out of the radio station business. Selling all its stations brought in $83.5 million.
The new multiplatform network, to debut in May 2019, has secured over-the-air distribution agreements with major local TV station group owners including Tribune, Scripps and Univision, giving Court TV coverage of more than 50% of U.S. television households at launch. Vinnie Politan will be the network’s lead anchor.
Five years ago, said Scripps Local Media President Brian Lawlor, Scripps owned only 13 television stations. “When we close on our recent acquisitions, we’ll have 51 stations in 36 markets stretching across the country.” The plan, he said, is to build “a stronger and more durable station portfolio.”
The boost to $231 million was attributed to political advertising revenue of $40 million plus $78.8 million in retrans money. Local Media profit was $67.4 million, compared to $30.4 million in the year-ago quarter.
The deal will bring the Scripps station portfolio to 51 stations in 36 markets with a reach of nearly 21% of U.S. TV households and includes three duopolies — in Helena and Great Falls, Montana, and Corpus Christi, Texas. Cordillera is selling its remaining station, NBC affiliate KVOA Tucson, Ariz., to Quincy Media.