On Wednesday, The Desk published an internal memo from a Tribune Media executive that speculated the deal would close on Thursday. The formal takeover was reported by the trade publication Variety Thursday afternoon.
The merger affects three TV stations in California: Los Angeles CW affiliate KTLA (Channel 5), Sacramento Fox affiliate KTXL (Channel 40) and San Diego Fox affiliate KSWB (Channel 69). Those stations join outlets in San Francisco, Fresno and Bakersfield that were owned by Nexstar prior to its acquisition of Tribune Media.
As a condition of the sale, Nexstar automatically transferred control of eight TV stations to TEGNA and another eight stations to the E.W. Scripps Company. Among the stations sold by Nexstar: Tribune’s New York City station WPIX-TV (Channel 11), Salt Lake City station KSTU (Channel 13) and two stations in Norfolk, Virginia (WTKR, Channel 3 and WGNT, Channel 27). Nexstar’s Phoenix station KASW (Channel 61) was also transferred as part of the acquisition agreement.
After the deals were finalized Thursday, Nexstar became the largest operator of local television stations in the country with over 200 in its portfolio. Scripps ended the day with 60 stations in 42 markets, while TEGNA said it now has 62 stations in 51 markets.
“The completion of our accretive acquisition of Tribune Media increases Nexstar’s geographic diversity and audience reach with national coverage and an expanded presence in top 50 DMAs, while offering complementary media assets and investments, scale driven synergies and further cash flow diversification,” Nexstar CEO Perry Sook said in a statement.
Nexstar reached an agreement to acquire Tribune’s broadcast assets last year after a similar merger deal between Tribune and Sinclair Broadcasting Group fell apart amid federal regulator scrutiny.
Nexstar’s position as the largest operator of TV stations in the country marks a meteoric rise for the 23-year-old company: The company started with just one TV station in small-market Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1996.