DMAS 121 & 140

Prather Buying Three Oregon TVs for $30M

Former Gray CEO Bob Prather’s new Heartland Media is adding Chambers Communications' ABC affiliates in Eugene and Medford-Klamath Falls.

Heartland Media, the station group launched last year by former Gray Television president Bob Prather, is multiplying its holdings with the purchase of three stations in Oregon.

Heartland, back by MSouth Equity Partners, is paying $30 million for Chambers Communication Corp.’s stations KEZI in Eugene (DMA 121), KDRV and KDKF in Medford-Klamath Falls (DMA 140).

The three stations, all ABC affiliates, boost Heartland’s station count to four. It purchased WTVK, the NBC affiliate in Utica, N.Y. (DMA 171) in October 2013 for $16 million.

The Chambers acquisition follows the blueprint Prather used when he was at Gray, he says: Buy well-run stations in medium and smaller markets.

“Eugene is a college town, which I like,” Prather says. “Local television news is going to continue to be a valuable source of information in these size towns. Everybody in town wants to know what’s going on locally, and the only way to get that is through local television.”

Prather says he intends to put a strong focus on digital, including streaming. “We will be streaming all local news on mobile devices,” he says. “All the stations have good websites, but I’ll be working to improve them.”

BRAND CONNECTIONS

Heartland is currently in talks to acquire two or three additional stations in similar size markets, according to Prather.

“I’m fired up,” he says. “It’s kind of like I’ve been reinvented. I’m an acquisitions guy at heart. I’m just kind of following my nose.”

For Chambers Communications, a family-owned business founded in 1959, the sale marks the end of an era.

“It’s been that way across the country,” says Scott Chambers, its CEO. “Consolidation left us at a disadvantage in some ways because of economies of scale. And we’re now seeing new terms of our relationship with the network.”

ABC, like other networks, is carving out a growing chunk of stations’ retransmission revenues in the form of reverse compensation or programming costs.

“We had multiple offers and we discussed the fact that we’re going to continue to live in this community and have lots of business interest in this community,” he says. “We wanted to see someone as committed to keeping news at the forefront as we were.”

Chambers, who has worked at the station for 32 years, notes that while the sale concludes his family’s investment in broadcasting, he will continue to serve on the board of the journalism school at the University of Oregon in Eugene.


Comments (6)

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Joanne McDonald says:

March 5, 2014 at 8:07 pm

Bob Prather Heartland Media would be great for Brian Brady’s Northwest Broadcasting stations KMVU/KFBI LD/KMCW LP, Blackhawk Broadcasting stations KYMA and KSWT, and Eagle Creek Broadcasting station KVTV, Philip Lombardo and his Citadel Communications WLNE and KLKN, and buys NTV (KHGI/KWNB, and KFXL) from Harry Pappas and his Pappas Telecasting. The present day KLKN needs to have reunifiedication with KHGI and KWNB to keep them afloat with KLKN having ABC and KHGI with KWNB having FOX while KFXL gets folded into KHGI with ABC on KLKN D1, and KHGI/KWNB D2, and FOX on KHGI/KWNB D1, and KLKN D2.

    Janet Frankston Lorin says:

    March 6, 2014 at 9:09 am

    I understand that a job is out of the question, but you really should consider some sort of hobby or something.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    March 6, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    He thinks people actually read the entire post, while in fact he is playing a one man “monopoly” game.

Marcelo Gama says:

March 6, 2014 at 9:31 am

HA! Touché!

Maria Black says:

March 6, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Can you please stop doing this James? Your non-news posts are cluttering up my ability to search for actual news about the stations you mention. You are literally making my job harder with your unsolicited “advice” to multiple companies. With the amount of station trades last year, it takes me a while to update my own records of who owns what, and when I search for stations the last thing I need is your “market analysis” comments that are COMPLETELY UNRELATED to the article or station I’m looking for due to your OCD with “fixing” market structure. Stop it dude, please. You’re giving me a migraine.

Jeff Hovendon says:

March 7, 2014 at 7:30 pm

Agree x 4. James, I dare you to tell us what, if any, job you have ever held in this business.


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