WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Gray Television, Inc. and Raycom Media, Inc. are joining forces.
On Monday, the companies announced an agreement to combine, forming what would be the country’s third largest television broadcast group. It would also become the largest holder of top-rated stations.
Once finalized, the group will consist of 142 full-power stations serving 92 markets across the country and reaching 24 percent of U.S. television households.
Management said the $3.6 billion deal is expected to close by the end of the year.
“We cannot be more excited,” said Gray Chairman, President and CEO Hilton Howell during an investor call Monday morning. Howell described the merger as, “simply the perfect fit.”
During the same call, Raycom President & CEO Pat LaPlatney said the agreement creates a “stronger, more impactful force” in the broadcast world.
Both Howell and LaPlatney touted the cultural ethos of the companies and shared dedication to high-quality local journalism. Executives said the deal will not require regulatory waivers from the federal government to be completed.
The move expands Gray’s television footprint into Arizona and Hawaii, but largely adds stations in states where the company already operates.
Currently, Gray and Raycom compete in nine markets. In its announcement, management announced it intends to hold onto Gray TV stations WVLT in Knoxville, WTVG in Toledo, KWTX in Waco, WCTV in Tallahassee, WRDW in Augusta, KOSA in Odessa, WJHG in Panama City, and WTVY in Dothan. Gray plans to divest the Raycom stations in those markets. The combined company plans to keep Raycom’s WALB in Albany, Ga. and part ways with WSWG.
Gray’s acquisition of Raycom will also lead to changes in Gray Television’s upper management. LaPlatney will become Gray’s president and co-chief executive officer upon closing; Howell will become executive chairman and co-chief executive officer.