Editor’s note: This article was originally published March 21, 2014
Austin-based LIN Media, owner of local NBC affiliate KXAN and dozens of other stations across the nation, is being acquired in a $1.6 billion deal, the company announced Friday.
The buyer is Media General, headquartered in Richmond, Va.
The Federal Communications Commission must give its blessing before the two broadcasters can finalize the merger – something executives with Media General and LIN Media said they expect to happen by early 2015.
In addition to KXAN, LIN Media, which moved its corporate offices last year to downtown Austin from Providence, R.I., also operates two other Central Texas TV stations: The CW affiliate KNVA and MyNetworkTV affiliate KBVO.
The three TV stations are housed in studios on West Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard near the University of Texas campus.
By adding the LIN Media stations to its portfolio, Media General says it will own or operate 74 stations in 46 cities nationwide, reaching 26.5 million households. The company doesn’t currently have a presence in Texas. Its station nearest to Austin is in Lafayette, La.
Media General will keep its headquarters in Richmond, the company said. Vincent Sadusky, LIN Media’s president and CEO, will head up Media General once the deal is consummated.
In an email sent Friday morning to all LIN Media employees, obtained by industry website FTVLive.com, Sadusky said Media General will "maintain a significant corporate and operational presence in Austin."
KXAN president and general manager Eric Lassberg told the American-Statesman that viewers shouldn’t notice any immediate changes as a result of the deal.
"We are excited about the announcement but are focused on our daily commitment to serve our viewers and advertisers," he said. "It’s business as usual here."
A transition team will soon be assembled, Sadusky said in his email, to begin planning on how to best integrate the two companies.
"This is an exciting and historic day for both companies," Sadusky said in a written statement. "The merger of two highly respected broadcasters with superior television and digital assets creates maximum value for shareholders and provides us the scale, breadth and resources to compete more effectively in the rapidly evolving media landscape. I am honored to lead our new company, deliver important synergies and achieve new levels of success."
LIN Media is the second broadcast company Media General has acquired in less than a year. In June 2013, it announced plans to buy 12 stations owned or operated by Young Broadcasting.
"Combining Media General and LIN Media will create the second largest pure-play TV broadcasting company in the United States, a financially strong organization that will have opportunities for profitable growth greater than either company could achieve on its own," Media General chairman J. Stewart Bryan said in a written statement. "Our two companies share a deep commitment to operating top-rated stations, to providing our local markets with excellent journalism and to engaging in meaningful ways with the communities we serve. The prospects for digital media growth are particularly exciting."
The acquisition comes just a few months after another Austin TV station, ABC affiliate KVUE, changed hands as part of Gannett’s $2.2 billion acquisition of Dallas-based Belo. The deal was finalized in December.
Sinclair Broadcasting, owner of local CBS affiliate KEYE, has also been making purchases lately, including a pending deal to buy stations owned by Allbritton Communications, including the ABC station serving Washington, D.C.
The rash of mergers is driven in part by broadcasters looking for cost efficiencies, according to Texas Association of Broadcasters president Oscar Rodriguez. Large companies can, for instance, consolidate some business functions, he said.
"There’s been a growing trend of consolidation," he said. "It reflects the changing marketplace. There are a lot of positive synergies that come from being a bigger company."