Tribune said Monday it will sell Atlanta WB affiliate WATL to Gannett for 180 million as part of an overall corporate effort to trim operating expenses, shed non-core businesses and buy back $500 million in stock.
WATL is one of a handful of Tribune stations that did not get the CW affiliation when tribune and CBS carved up overlapping markets for CW stations. Instead, WATL has aligned with Fox's MyNetworkTV.
"Our goal is to generate additional shareholder value through improved operating performance, asset sales and the disciplined repayment of debt over the next several years," Tribune Chairman and CEO Dennis FitzSimons said in a statement. "The sale of WATL further demonstrates our commitment to delivering value for shareholders.”
The sale, subject to FCC approval, would give Gannett a duopoly in Atlanta, the No. 9 TV market, where it already owns NBC affiliate WXIA.
Tribune acquired full ownership of WATL in 2000 when it purchased Qwest Broadcasting.
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