Media Gen/LIN To Sell Or Swap In 5 Markets
Before they can close their proposed $1.6 billion merger, Media General and LIN Media will have to sell or swap stations in five markets to comply with FCC rules limiting common ownership of more than one station in a market, Media General CEO George Mahoney told securities analysts following the announcement of the mega-deal this morning.
Media General and LIN have overlapping stations in five markets -- Providence; Savannah, Ga.; Birmingham, Ala.; Mobile, Ala.; and Green Bay, Wis.
In Providence, Media General owns WJAR (NBC); LIN owns WPRI (CBS) and operates WNAC (Fox) through a marketing agreement.
In Savannah, Media General owns WSAV (NBC); LIN owns WJCL (ABC) and operates WTGS (Fox) through a marketing agreement.
In Birmingham, Media General owns WVTM (NBC); LIN owns WIAT (CBS).
In Mobile, Media General owns WKRG (CBS); LIN owns WALA (Fox) and WFNA (CW).
In Green Bay, Media General owns WBAY (ABC); LIN owns WLUK (Fox) and WCWF (CW).
"We recognize the issue, and we are going to work very constructively and creatively with the FCC to make sure we close this transaction as quickly as possible," said Mahoney. "We are clear that certain stations will have to be swapped or sold.”
Mahoney suggested that he preferred swaps, even though they are harder to do than straight sales. "It cleans out the issue and could allow us to grow our national footprint. There is real opportunity there."
In any case, no buyer or potential swap partner should expect a discount because the pressure to comply with FCC rules, Mahoney said.
"There are people out there that very much want to have these kinds of television stations," Mahoney said. "It will be fun for you to know that our emails have already been lighting up this morning."