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WPRI, WJAR Parent Companies to Merge

Media General and LIN Media will merge in a $1.6 billion transaction.

The parent companies of Rhode Island's Nos. 1 and 2 TV news stations, WJAR and WPRI, are merging in a $1.6 billion deal.

Media General and LIN announced the deal this morning.

Combined, the two media companies would own and operate 74 stations across 46 markets.

In some markets, like here in Rhode Island, the new company, which would retain the Media General name, would find itself owning competing stations. As a result, "Media General expects certain of these stations to be swapped or otherwise divested in order to address regulatory considerations."

NBC10 is headquartered in Cranston. WPRI operates its studio in East Providence.

In a statement, both companies said the deal will deliver value to shareholders, customers and employees by expanding the company's market penetration, diversifying its assets across markets and other strategic benefits.

There's no word on what the company will do in Rhode Island, nor are there any indications as to what station would be sold or "divested."

The news was surprising to many, including employees of both stations who took to Twitter to react to the news.

"Holy cow," summed up the sentiments of WPRI's Ted Nesi.

"Merger happening with parent companies for @wpri12 and @NBC10," said Susan Campbell. "Interesting!"

According to Media General Chairman J. Steward Brian III, the merger will create "the second largest pure-pay TV broadcasting company in the United States, a financially strong organization that will have opportunities for profitable growth greater than any company could achieve on their own."

RBC Capital Markets has agreed to provide $1.6 billion in total committed financing to Media General in support of the transaction. At closing, pro forma net leverage is expected to be less than 5.0x, based on 2013/2014 average year pro forma adjusted EBITDA.

The new Media General common stock will be listed on the NYSE and trade under the symbol MEG, subject to NYSE approval of the listing of the new shares. Upon the closing, the initial Board of Directors of Media General will consist of 11 directors, seven of which will be designated by Media General and four of which will be designated by LIN Media. Mr. Sadusky will be one of the four directors designated by LIN Media.

This story will be updated.
Nelson Aldrich March 21, 2014 at 11:16 AM
Well said George!
Leave RI March 21, 2014 at 01:54 PM
Bring back Sotnick
Tax payer March 22, 2014 at 12:25 PM
Looks like channel 10 will be the winner in this. They should take the best of both stations and combine those on air talents into the VERY BEST news, weather, and sports station in the Northeast, and sell the rest to Channel 6, Oh wait, they are bankrupt.
Steven r March 22, 2014 at 05:40 PM
Have Michelle(when she come back) and Kelly Love do the weather on channel 10
Steven r March 22, 2014 at 05:41 PM
channel 6 is bankrupt for a second time.

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