Gray Television completes acquisition of Montgomery-based Raycom Media
Gray Television, Inc. (NYSE: GTN) announced on Wednesday that it has completed its “transformative” acquisition of Montgomery-based Raycom Media, Inc, making it the third largest television station owner in the country.
Per a company press release, the major acquisition cements Gray’s ascent from a small, regional broadcaster to a leading national media company. By combining the two companies, Gray now owns the first or second highest rated television station in 85 American markets. Collectively, these television stations broadcast almost 400 separate programming streams, including nearly 150 affiliates of the CBS/NBC/ABC/FOX networks.
This includes Alabama’s WSFA in Montgomery, WBRC in Birmingham, WAFF in Huntsville and WTVY in Dothan, all of which were Raycom stations.
WDFX in Dothan was owned by Gray but was divested to avoid market overlap and satisfy the conditions placed on the merger by the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Gray stations will now reach almost a quarter of American homes.
The Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) held a large stake of shares in Raycom – which it helped found – and are expected to continue a sizable role with Gray.
In the system’s August newsletter, RSA CEO David Bronner wrote that “with the size of Gray and Raycom together, the future looks bright.”
“If approved, the RSA will continue its investment in Gray/Raycom with a $650 million preferred stock at 8%, along with 10 million shares of common stock (currently valued at $130-$140 million) or 11% of Gray. Gray/Raycom will continue the Raycom headquarters in Montgomery, with the yearly $30 million advertising program and RTJ support programs for ten years,” Bronner detailed.
Upon the closing, Hilton Howell became Gray’s executive chairman and CEO. Pat LaPlatney, formerly Raycom’s president and CEO, became Gray’s president and co-CEO. LaPlatney and Raycom’s prior president and CEO, Paul McTear, also joined Gray’s board of directors.
In addition, immediately prior to the Gray/Raycom closing, Raycom completed the spin-offs to its shareholders of two of its wholly owned subsidiaries, CNHI, LLC and PureCars Automotive, LLC.
In a separate release, it was confirmed that RSA were the shareholders that acquired CNHI, which is a media company made up of more than 100 local newspapers and websites in 22 states, including 68 dailies and more than 40 non-dailies.
CNHI is also based in Montgomery. Prior to being acquired by Raycom in the fall of 2017, CNHI had operated with RSA as its creditor. RSA operated as Raycom’s main lender as well.
“We are very excited about working with RSA again because of its dedication to the crucial role of newspapers in keeping the public informed on what is happening in their communities and beyond,” Donna Barrett, president and CEO of CNHI, announced. “We believe this acquisition will provide stability for CNHI as we continue to transform our business for future success.”
Since 1997, CNHI has grown from a handful of newspapers to one of the nation’s largest local newspaper groups, serving communities in the Midwest, Southwest, Southeast and Northeast with news and advertising content in newspapers, magazines, websites and specialty products.
In Alabama, CNHI owns The News Courier in Athens, The Cullman Times, North Jefferson News in Gardendale and St. Clair News Aegis.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn