Gray Television and closely aligned Excalibur Broadcasting have agreed to acquire 15 stations from Hoak Media and Parker Broadcasting for $335 million. Separately, Excalibur has agreed to acquire two Fox-affiliated television stations in one of the markets, Minot, N.D., served by Hoak from Prime Cities Broadcasting for $7.5 million.
"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring the Hoak, Parker and Prime Cities television stations into the Gray community," said Hilton Howell, Gray President and CEO. "These transactions will yield impressive synergies, many of which are unique to Gray given how well the stations' locations, operations and culture complement our own."
The markets are No. 105 up to No. 108. Stations moving to Gray include KSFY-KABY-KPRY Sioux Falls, KVLY Fargo, WMBB Panama City (Fla.) and KALB Alexandria (La.). Due to regulatory requirements, Gray will sell Hoak's stations in the Panama City and Grand Junction markets to one or more independent parties.
Excalibur, run by former Gray exec Don Ray, has reached separate definitive agreements with Hoak and Parker to acquire KHAS Lincoln (Neb.), KXJB Fargo, KAQY Monroe-El Dorado (La.) and KFQX Grand Junction (Colo.). Due to regulatory requirements, Excalibur will sell Parker's television station in the Grand Junction market to an independent third party.
Excalibur has also reached a definitive agreement with Prime Cities to acquire KNDX and satellite KXND in Minot-Bismarck-Dickinson (N.D.).
"Our cultures and operating philosophies are very similar, and we share a strong commitment to local news excellence and a deep sense of service to the communities in which our stations are located," commented Eric Van den Branden, Hoak Media President and CEO. "We will clearly miss working with some of the most talented and dedicated people in broadcasting, but we know we leave our employees in capable hands with Gray Television."
Gray will provide back-office services and limited programming to Excalibur's stations in the Lincoln, Fargo, Bismarck and Monroe markets, the shared services arrangements kicking in upon Excalibur's purchase of those stations.
The deals are subject to regulatory approval and are expected to gain approval in the first or second quarter of 2014.
Upon completion of them, Gray TV will reach approximately 7.33% of U.S. television households.
Wells Fargo Securities, for one, applauded the deal for Gray. "We view this announcement as a positive and potentially transformative deal" for GTN, it wrote in a report after the deal was announced.
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.