Gray Sells Grand Junction Duop To Nexstar
To "satisfy regulatory requirements," Gray Television said today that it is spinning off four of the TV stations in its pending Hoak Media acquisition — ABC affiliate WMBB Panama City, Fla., and CBS affiliate KREX Grand Junction, Colo.(with two satellites) — to Nexstar Broadcasting for $33.5 million.
Gray announced in November agreements under which it and its sidecar group, Excalibur Broadcasting, would acquire the stations of Hoak Media and its sidecar company, Parker Broadcasting, for $335 million. The deal involved 20 stations in nine markets.
Among the stations Excalibur is acquiring from Parker in that deal is Fox affiliate KFQX Grand Junction, Colo., from Parker.
In today's announcement, Gray also that rather than take possession of KFQX, Excalibur would sell it to Nexstar's sidecar company, Mission, for $4 million.
If all the deals pass muster at the FCC, Gray and Nexstar will each have virtual duopolies in Grand Junction. Gray will own ABC affiliate KJCT and operate NBC affiliate KKCO through Excalibur. Meanwhile, Nexstar will own CBS affiliate KREX and operate Fox affiliate KFQX through Mission.
FCC local ownership rules prohibit broadcasters from owning two stations in markets as small as Grand Junction. But they can own one and operate a second under contracts often through closely aligned sidecar companies like Excalibur and Mission that hold the license and have ultimate control of the station.
In Panama City, Gray also already owns a duopoly, WJHG (NBC) and WECP-LD (CBS). There, Gray's dual ownership is permitted because WECP-LD is a low power station.