TVBizwire

Station Group Boss: Consider Us a Buyer TVNewsCheck

Amid talk about industry consolidation in the wake of the announced acquisition of the Allbritton Television Stations by Sinclair Broadcast Group, one station group is making it clear that it would love to get in on the merger-and-acquisition action.

TVNewsCheck reports: "Count Gray Television among broadcast industry consolidators, Hilton Howell told analysts and investors today. Howell, chairman-CEO-president, said Gray is actively considering acquisitions that are accretive and de-levering."

Howell said during the company's second-quarter earnings conference call: "We are looking aggressively at partners and deals and will make sure we do our absolute best to keep our leverage in mind."

President and COO Bob Prather left that post in June, the piece notes, prompting questions about the direction the company is headed. Among the questions is whether Gray will be a buyer or a seller.

Howell made it clear the company intends to be a buyer.

Said Howell: "Gray has a vital and integral role to play in the consolidation of this industry. In terms of acquisitions, we have looked at [a lot] of things. The mantra from us is the company is in de-levering mode. We still are. But there are certain stations, certain groups that are a perfect fit for us. ... Gray has a long road ahead in terms of being able to add those types of stations to our company."

He added: "The company is simply not for sale. But let it be known I know there are people who would love to buy it. I would never say never."

The report adds: "Gray has been quietly expanding its portfolio with stations in Dothan, Ala.; North Platte, Neb; and, most recently, the addition of KJCT, the ABC affiliate in Grand Junction, Colo."