Sinclair completes purchase of WTOV

STEUBENVILLE – Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. announced that it has closed on the purchase of four television stations from Cox Media Group including WTOV-TV, the local NBC affiliate.

In a press release, Sinclair representatives indicated the four stations were purchased for $99 million less $4.3 million of working capital adjustments and an agreement to provide sales services to one other station.

Sinclair funded the transaction through cash on hand, according to the press release.

The other three stations purchased in the deal included stations in El Paso, Texas; Johnstown/Altoona, Pa.; and two stations in Reno, Nev.

Out of the stations purchased, WTOV is the smallest station as far as market size is concerned. According to the Nielsen rating index for 2012-13, the WTOV television market ranks at position 158 and serves 130,110 television homes.

When the sale was first under consideration, CMG President Doug Franklin noted, “All of these media locations are valued brands with talented professionals who are committed to their audiences, advertisers and communities. We wish all of the employees well and know they will continue to work hard to produce quality entertainment, news and information for their customers and new owners.”

The sales are part of Cox Media’s strategy to focus on larger markets, cross-media collaboration and heightened impact in fewer markets. In addition to jettisoning the four small market stations, the Atlanta-based company added four new TV stations in Jacksonville, Fla., and Tulsa, Okla.

Sinclair President and CEO David Smith said his company’s “platform size and leadership position allow us to bring meaningful purchasing power and negotiating leverage to these stations. Including synergies, we believe the CMG stations can generate approximately $20 million of cash flow, on average.”

The local television station dates back to Dec. 24, 1953, when it went on the air as WSTV-TV.

WSTV was a CBS affiliate which also carried some ABC programming.

In 1978, and after original owner Rust Craft Broadcasting merged with another company, WSTV changed to WTOV. Two years later, the station dropped CBS, and it became an NBC affiliate.

WTOV changed hands one more time before Cox Media Group acquired it in 2000.