Two companies are merging to form the fifth-largest independent television station group in the country.
“The E.W. Scripps Company and Journal Communications have agreed to merge their broadcast operations and spin off and then merge their newspapers, creating two focused and separately traded public companies,” the two companies have announced.
The announcement continues, “The merged broadcast and digital media company, based in Cincinnati, will retain The E.W. Scripps Company name, and the Scripps family shareholders will continue to have voting control. The company will have approximately 4,000 employees across its television, radio and digital media operations and is expected to have annual revenue of more than $800 million.”
The merged company will own 34 TV stations and 35 radio outlets.
Says the announcement, “The E.W. Scripps Company, based in Cincinnati, will own and operate television and radio stations serving 27 markets and reaching 18 percent of U.S. television households.”
The announcement adds, “The merger will create significant strategic and financial benefits for Scripps including:
•Creating the opportunity for improving TV division margins;
•Adding a profitable radio business;
•Positioning the TV group in attractive markets across the country, including stations in eight important political states – Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin;
•Extending Scripps’ position as one of the largest owners of ABC-affiliated TV stations in the country by market reach, with 15 ABC affiliates, and expanding its affiliations to all of the Big Four networks;
•Benefitting from co-ownership of TV and radio in five markets;
•Leveraging high-quality journalism and Scripps’ original television programming across a larger geographic footprint; and
•Maintaining a strong balance sheet, with expected net leverage at closing estimated at about 2x, allowing plenty of capacity for additional acquisitions.
The combination further leverages Scripps’ digital investments, adding large and attractive markets to the portfolio. The company is building and launching market-leading digital brands that serve growing digital media audiences in addition to supporting its on-air local news brands. It also recently acquired digital brands with national reach such as Newsy and DecodeDC that will benefit from the new geographic markets.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee will remain under the stewardship of The E.W. Scripps Company.”
“Rich Boehne, chairman, president and CEO of The E.W. Scripps Company … will continue at the helm of Scripps,” the announcement says.
On the print side, the spinoff newspaper company, according to the annoucement, “will be called Journal Media Group and will combine Scripps’ daily newspapers, community publications and related digital products in 13 markets with Journal Communications’ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin community publications and affiliated digital products. The company, with expected annual revenue of more than $500 million and approximately 3,600 employees, will be headquartered in Milwaukee.”
Also, “Tim Stautberg, senior vice president, newspapers for Scripps, will become president, CEO and a director of Journal Media Group upon completion of the transaction. Steve Smith, [chairman and CEO of Journal Communications] will become non-executive chairman of the board,” the announcement says.