Gray Television on Monday announced an agreement to acquire Raycom Media and merge the broadcasters into what would be the nation’s No. 3 television group.
The $3.6 billion deal, officials added, would also establish the combined company as “the single largest owner of top-rated local television stations and digital assets in the country.”
“Combining our company with the excellent Raycom stations and the superb Raycom employees will create a powerhouse local media operation,” Gray Chairman, President and CEO Hilton Howell said in a statement.
Gray said it planned to divest its ownership in nine stations that overlap with markets represented by Raycom, but noted that the companies’ portfolios are otherwise “highly complementary” and should present “only minimal regulatory issues.”
A combined company would include 142 full-power stations covering 92 markets and 24 percent of U.S. television households.
Gray will also acquire production companies Raycom Sports, Tupelo Raycom and RTM Productions, along with digital signage company Broadview Media, as part of the deal. Raycom plans to spin off its Community Newspaper Holdings newspaper business and automotive digital ad platform PureCars.
The merger is expected to close in the fourth quarter of the year, at which point Howell will be joined by Raycom counterpart Pat LaPlatney as co-CEOs. LaPlatney and former Raycom chief executive Paul McTear will also join Gray’s board of directors.
“Together, we will be a stronger, more impactful force for our audiences, advertisers, and communities,” LaPlatney said.