Gray Selling 2, Buying 1 Station In Charlottesville
Gray Television announced today that it is selling its Charlottesville, Va. (DMA 183), television stations WCAV (CBS-Fox) and WVAW (ABC) to an affiliate of Lockwood Broadcasting and is buying the market’s NBC affiliate, WVIR, from Waterman Broadcasting Corp. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.
“The decision to sell our Charlottesville television stations has been very difficult,” said Hilton Howell Jr., Gray’s chairman-CEO. “After creating WCAV and WVAW from scratch less than 15 years ago, these start-ups managed to accomplish the rare feat of becoming strong local news and sales operations in the face of a very strong legacy television station.
“Nevertheless, we had to jump at the opportunity to add a station like WVIR to our portfolio, and we are excited to welcome WVIR into the Gray family.
“In divesting WCAV and WVAW to Lockwood, we are entrusting our employees and stations to a Virginia-based broadcaster who has continued to invest in the television stations that it acquired from us in the past when Gray was required to divest stations due to market overlaps.”
Gray said that prior to acquiring WVIR, it will completely divest WCAV-WVAW. It said it anticipates closing both transactions following receipt of regulatory and other approvals in the second or third quarter of 2019.
Following the closing, Gray said it will not maintain any continuing relationship with WCAV-WVAW such as joint sales, joint retransmission negotiations, news production or local marketing arrangements, nor will Gray and Lockwood be party to any options, loans, or financial guarantees involving these or other television stations. In short, following consummation of the transactions, WCAV-WVAW will operate independently of Gray, just as WVIR will operate independently of its current owner.
“The decision to sell WVIR has been challenging and emotional,” said Edith B. Waterman, president of Waterman Broadcasting. “We have had the great privilege of proudly serving Charlottesville and its surrounding communities since 1986. Our focus has been serving the good people of central Virginia and taking care of our uniquely talented and dedicated work family. However, when the opportunity presented itself to turn our work family and our valued NBC franchise over to Gray Television, a company that shares our traditions of community service and broadcast excellence, we knew that this was the right decision. Gray’s ownership offers WVIR and our employees the best prospect for the future.”
WVIR, which signed-on the air in 1973, for many years has ranked as one of the highest rated television stations in the U.S. In November 2018, WVIR’s all day ratings made it the ninth-highest rated NBC affiliate in the country. Gray added that once it acquires WVIR, Gray will own nine of the top 10 ranked NBC affiliates nationwide.