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Ion Grabs Two Stations

Ion Media Networks shelled out $18 million for stations in Memphis, Tenn., and New Orleans as it focuses on extending its footprint.

The company grabbed WPXL New Orleans and WPXX Memphis, which it has operated under a time-brokerage agreement, from Flinn Broadcasting Group.

CEO Brandon Burgess said gobbling up station real estate is a priority. “There’s a lot more value as an owner than a renter as we go into the digital transition,” he added. “Memphis is a good market, and New Orleans will come back in the long term.”

He spoke of the “multicasting upside” and importance of owning a significant share of spectrum, particularly as companies like Google and Verizon Communications seek to grab some for their digital products. The Federal Communications Commission will auction off spectrum space Jan. 16.

Burgess said the stations will air Ion programming -- a mix of vintage comedies and infomercials -- and he’d remain in acquisition mode. “If something becomes available in a large market,” he added, “we’ll take a look.”