The most aggressive broadcaster in regards to M&A, Nexstar Media Group, has stuck its name in the hat for the eight ABC owned-and-operated stations, should The Walt Disney Co. make good on hints made over the summer and put them up for sale.
Tom Carter, a longtime Nexstar executive now serving as a senior adviser to CEO Perry Sook, said Wednesday that the stations could be purchased by Nexstar with “little friction.” He said this while speaking in New York at the BofA Securities Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference, an event covered by the Penske showbiz trades.
“We think there could be some opportunities depending on how things fall out,” Carter said.
Disney CEO Bob Iger spurred the interests of not only Nexstar, but also myriad private equity concerns over the summer when he said the stations "may not be core" to Disney's future.
Irving, Texas-based Nexstar has swelled its holdings to more than 160 stations by making at least 40 acquisitions over the last decade, including Tribune and Media General.
Carter conceded that Nexstar has reached the regulatory limit on station acquisitions.
"That would not preclude us from buying stations because ... ABC's portfolio of stations is modest. It's only 8, largely in the top 10 markets. We're in 8 of the top 10 markets already. So we could -- with a CW station, we could buy a second station in that market and not increase our household footprint. There may be a few stations that would require divestiture or either of a Nexstar station or an ABC station, but we could onboard those with relatively little friction.”
Meanwhile, asked about an impasse with DirecTV that has kept Nexstar stations off the pay TV operator's platforms since early July, Carter said not much talking was done over the summer, but that has changed recently.
“Progress has been made,” he said. “We’re not going to do a bad deal. But our expectation is that we’re going to reach an agreement at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later, because everyone agrees that it’s not in anyone’s best interest to alienate the consumer.”
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!