Nexstar Completes Acquisition of Tribune Station Group

Nexstar Media said it completed its $7.2 billion acquisition of Tribune Media to create the biggest broadcaster in the U.S.

The combined company, with 197 full power, owned or serviced, television stations in 115 markets, will reach 39% of U.S. households, figuring in the FCC’s UHF discount. That’s after completing the sales of 21 stations for $1.33 billion to comply with government regulations.

With Tribune Media, Nexstar also acquired the WGN America cable network and 31% ownership of TV Food Network.

“The completion of our accretive acquisition of Tribune Media increases Nexstar’s geographic diversity and audience reach with national coverage and an expanded presence in top 50 DMAs, while offering complementary media assets and investments, scale driven synergies and further cash flow diversification,” said Nexstar CEO Perry Sook. “Nexstar Media Group is now the nation’s leading creator and distributor of local news, entertainment, sports, lifestyle and network programming through its broadcast and digital media platforms.”

Sook said the deal will increase free cash flow by 51%, enabling the company to begin reducing its debt.

Three members of Tribune’s management team have joined Nexstar:

Sean Compton has been named executive VP, WGN America, WGN Radio and director of content acquisition.

Dana Zimmer will serve as executive VP and chief distribution and strategy officer.

Gary Weitman has been named executive VP and chief communications officer;

“Today, the Nexstar team is comprised of more than 13,000 talented team members across America united by a common vision focused on localism, innovation and growth as well as a passion for professional excellence. Sean, Dana and Gary are recognized leaders in their respective fields and we welcome them to the Nexstar senior management team,” Sook said. “These appointments reflect our proven integration strategy of marrying best of breed practices from our existing operations with those from acquired entities. Our long-term strategy of appointing proven broadcast and digital media leaders has driven our industry-leading innovation, distribution and core revenue growth, seamless M&A integration and enterprise-wide cost management all of which are fundamental to our consistent growth.”

As part of the deal, Nexstar spun 11 stations off to Tegna, which also announced Thursday it had closed on that purchase.

The $740 million deal ups Tegna's portfolio to 62 TV stations in 51 markets. 

The E.W. Scripps Co. acquired eight TV stations in seven markets from Nexstar including WPIX-TV in New York. Scripps now has 60 stations in 42 markets.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.