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Scripps will keep Sacramento Ion TV station for now

The logo of Ion Television. (Logo: Ion/Scripps, Graphic: The Desk)

The E.W. Scripps Company will acquire the television broadcast license of Sacramento TV station KSPX as part of a deal to purchase the station’s parent company Ion Media, according to public documents filed with federal regulators this week.

On Monday, a holding company for KSPX (Channel 29) and several other Ion Media stations filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to transfer control of those licenses to Scripps.

The move follows Scripps’ announcement last month that it had agreed to purchase Ion Media for $2.6 billion. As part of the deal, Scripps will continue to operate dozens of Ion owned-and-operated stations across the country as well as two national programming feeds.

Scripps intends to replace other digital networks distributed by Ion, including several home shopping channels, with its own digital networks. Those networks, operated under Scripps’ subsidiary Katz Broadcasting, include Court TV, Bounce, Laff and Grit. Scripps’ 24-hour news channel Newsy is also expected to launch on Ion’s digital sub-channels.

The company’s decision to keep KSPX will mark the first time Scripps has operated a station in the Sacramento television market, which extends to Marysville, Modesto and portions of South Lake Tahoe and Fairfield. It will also be the second time KSPX has changed owners since it launched in 1990. Paxson Communications, the company that later morphed into Ion Media, purchased KSPX in 1998.

Scripps’ deal to purchase Ion Media is still subject to regulator scrutiny, and the company is moving forward with plans to sell off more than one-third of Ion’s owned-and-operated stations to a holding company to satisfy the FCC’s broadcast ownership rules. Additional stations could be divested if regulators push back against the deal.

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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).