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Comedian Byron Allen acquires control of two California TV stations

A comedian-turned-television mogul has acquired control of 11 broadcast TV stations, including two in Northern California.

Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios announced on Tuesday it had completed a $305 million purchase of the nearly dozen stations once operated by USA Television Holdings, USA Television MidAmerica and Heartland Media.

The acquisition includes the purchase of CBS affiliate KHSL (Channel 12) from Heartland Media and a contract to operate NBC affiliate KNVN (Channel 24). Both stations are based in the Chico-Redding market.

Other stations acquired by Entertainment Studios include ABC affiliate KDRV (Channel 12) in Medford, Oregon; ABC affiliate KEZI-TV (Channel 9) in Eugene, Oregon; and CBS affiliate WTHI (Channel 10) in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The acquisition completes Entertainment Studios’ first foray into the broadcast television industry. Started as a production company in 1993, Entertainment Studios began distributing shows in syndication before launching several streaming-only TV networks, including Pets TV, Comedy TV and Recipe TV.

In the mid-2010s, the company made aggressive moves to expand beyond television distribution and streaming TV services with its acquisition of the Weather Channel from Comcast Corporation and the launch of a digital-only broadcast network called Justice Central.

Byron is perhaps most familiar to the general public as the late night host of “Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen,” a 30-minute panel show that typically airs late at night. The show is distributed to dozens of stations across the country and is often showed after midnight (neither KHSL or KNVN currently air the show).

Other shows distributed by Allen include courtroom-style arbitration programs, game shows and talk series. In 2013, a Bloomberg Businessweek profile said Allen made around $100 million annually to create shows that “hardly anyone sees,” according to actor John Lovitz.

In addition to the television properties, Allen also operates The Grio, a multimedia-centric news site that produces news and other information videos about African American issues.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).