Broadcaster planning statewide news bureau in Austin

kxanThe Texas-based company planning to buy local NBC affiliate KXAN and dozens of other TV stations nationwide will open a statewide news bureau in Austin if the deal goes through.

In an updated filing with the Federal Communications Commission, Irving-based Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc. says its proposed acquisition of KXAN’s owner, Richmond, Va.-based Media General, would also give it the scale needed to open statewide news bureaus in two other states: New York and Tennessee.

In addition to KXAN, Media General also operates Austin CW affiliate KNVA and MyNetworkTV affiliate KBVO.

In Texas, once the acquisition is complete, Nexstar would have TV stations in Austin, Harlingen, Bryan/College Station, Waco, Tyler, Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland/Odessa, Wichita Falls, Abilene and San Angelo. That would leave only three Texas TV markets – Houston, Dallas and San Antonio – without a Nexstar-owned station.

“These state news bureaus will empower stations to share news content regarding state political issues and matters of regional interest across all of Nexstar’s stations in the state, providing viewers with greater and more timely access to relevant information,” Nexstar says in its filing. “With modest financial contributions from all stations, these bureaus are economically viable and will provide content that would otherwise not be possible.”

Nexstar also indicates in documents that it will explore adding even more statewide news bureaus, including the possibility of ones in Alabama and Indiana.

The FCC is currently reviewing Nexstar’s plans to take over Media General’s stations. Before getting a green light, the companies will be required to divest stations in several markets where they have overlapping operations.

Texas firm buys 3 Austin TV stations as part of $4.6B deal

kxanThree Austin TV stations are in line to get a new owner — and it’s not the company everyone was expecting.

Virginia-based Media General, which operates NBC affiliate KXAN, CW affiliate KNVA and MyNetworkTV affiliate KBVO, is being acquired by Irving-based Nexstar Broadcasting Group in a deal valued at $4.6 billion in cash and stock, according to an announcement made Wednesday.

The new company will be named Nexstar Media Group and will have 171 full-power TV stations in 100 U.S. TV markets.

Last year, Media General had agreed to merge with Iowa-based Meredith Corp. That deal almost immediately hit a series of roadblocks when Nexstar executives made a counteroffer. They were rebuffed initially, but criticism from key Media General stockholders steadily grew.

The breakup up with Meredith will cost Media General $60 million. Meredith will also get first dibs on buying any stations Nexstar is required to sell off in markets where it overlaps with Media General. reports those markets will likely include Roanoke, Va; Green Bay, Wis.; Davenport, Iowa; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Lafayette, La.; and Terre Haute, Ind.

“Together with Nexstar, we can deliver a more comprehensive, integrated and competitive offering across all markets for the benefit of our advertisers and brands,” Media General president and CEO Vincent Sadusky said in a written statement. “I am thankful for the hard work and dedication of our talented employees, and I’m confident they will continue to make many valuable contributions as part of a larger and stronger organization. I look forward to working closely with the Nexstar team to bring our companies together to realize the power of this compelling combination and ensure a smooth transition.”

In Texas, KXAN, KNVA and KBVO are Media General’s only stations. Nexstar, however, owns several more, including ones in Abilene, Amarillo, College Station, El Paso, Harlingen, Lufkin, Midland, San Angelo, Tyler, Waco and Wichita Falls.

Through a contract with Four Points Media Group, Nexstar briefly operated Austin CBS affiliate KEYE beginning in 2009. That deal ended, though, when Four Points was sold to Sinclair Broadcast Group, KEYE’s current owner, in 2011.

“The acquisition of Media General’s broadcasting and digital media assets represent a transformational growth opportunity for Nexstar and is strategically and financially compelling,” Nexstar president and CEO Perry Sook said in a written statement. “The transaction increases Nexstar’s broadcast portfolio by approximately two thirds with very limited overlap with our existing properties, more than doubles our audience reach, provides entrée to 15 new top-50 (markets) and offers synergies related to the increased scale of the combined digital media operations.”

Austin represents one of those new top-50 markets Sook mentioned, ranking 39th in the nation, according to Nielsen, with 745,640 TV households.

The Media General deal is expected to close in either the third or fourth quarter of this year, Nexstar said.


Austin viewers get 2 new over-the-air TV networks

Programming on Laff includes 'The Drew Carey Show.'
Programming on Laff includes ‘The Drew Carey Show.’

Two more over-the-air TV channels are on their way to Central Texas.

Media General, owner of CW affiliate KNVA and MyNetworkTV affiliate KBVO, has signed deals to carry the Grit and Laff networks.

Grit, which targets a primarily male audience with shows such as “Walker, Texas Ranger” and Western flicks, will pop up soon on KNVA’s 54.2 digital subchannel.

The network is about a year old and has a companion female-focused network, Escape, that can be found on Univision-owned KAKW’s 62.4 digital subchannel.

Laff will air on KBVO’s 14.2 digital subchannel. The network, which launched seven months ago, primarily runs reruns of sitcoms such as “Empty Nest,” “Ellen,” “Spin City,” “Grace Under Fire,” “The Bernie Mac Show” and “The Drew Carey Show.”

A Media General representative said Monday that Grit and Laff should make their debut here sometime in late December.

“The addition of these powerful stations … widens our already robust and expansive market coverage for our young networks,” said Jeffrey Wolf, chief distribution officer for Katz Broadcasting, the company behind Escape, Grit and Laff.

Monday’s announcement comes just about a week after Austin NBC affiliate KXAN, another Media General station, added the ION network to one of its digital subchannels.

DirecTV customers will keep 3 Austin stations, but Dish subscribers might lose KVUE

kxanOne satellite TV dispute has been resolved, but another still lingers.

Media General, the company that operates three Austin TV stations, says it has reached a new agreement with DirecTV that means NBC affiliate KXAN, CW affiliate KNVA and MyNetworkTV affiliate KBVO will remain a part of its channel lineup.

Dish Network, meanwhile, has yet to strike a new deal with Tegna, owner of Austin ABC affiliate KVUE.

An existing agreement that expired Sept. 30 was initially extended 24 hours, but the two sides said Thursday that they would up that to an eight-day extension because Hurricane Joaquin is approaching the East Coast, where Tegna owns several TV stations.

Cable and satellite TV providers are required by federal law to compensate broadcasters for carrying their signals. Those fees have been the sticking point in both the DirecTV and Dish Network negotiations, based upon public statements made by those involved.

Disputes with Dish, DirecTV could knock 4 Austin stations off the air

kxanDisputes between broadcasters and satellite TV providers could knock as many as four Austin TV stations off some channel lineups this week.

DirecTV has yet to reach a new agreement to carry dozens of stations nationwide operated by Media General, including Austin NBC affiliate KXAN, CW affiliate KNVA and MyNetworkTV affiliate KBVO.

The current deal expires at 11 p.m. Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Dish Network is in a similar standoff with Tegna, owner of Austin ABC affiliate KVUE.

The deadline for them to work things out is 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The sticking point in both the DirecTV and Dish Network negotiations is money, based upon public statements made by those involved. Cable and satellite TV providers are required by federal law to compensate broadcasters for carrying their signals.

Just last month, a similar dustup knocked Austin CBS affiliate KEYE and its Telemundo subchannel off the Dish Network lineup for about 24 hours.

Deal keeps KXAN, KNVA, KBVO on Suddenlink lineup

Jim Spencer leads the KXAN weather team.
Jim Spencer leads the KXAN weather team.

A last-minute deal has kept three Austin TV stations on the Suddenlink Communications lineup.

Without the newly signed retransmission agreement, the cable provider, which serves the Georgetown, Leander and Pflugerville areas, would have been forced to drop NBC affiliate KXAN, CW affiliate KNVA and MyNetworkTV affiliate KBVO on Tuesday afternoon.

The three stations are operated by Richmond, Va.-based Media General.

Retransmission agreements require cable and satellite providers to get broadcasters’ permission to carry their signals. Typically, as part of the deal, the stations are paid a monthly per-subscriber fee.

Terms of the deal weren’t released, although Suddenlink indicated on its website Tuesday afternoon that it had offered Media General more cash than it was receiving under the terms of the expiring agreement.

“Thanks to our customers for their patience as we worked through this negotiation,” Suddenlink said in a message to subscribers. “Media General now joins dozens of other broadcasters with which we have successfully concluded agreements since last November.”

In addition to KXAN, KNVA and KBVO, Media General stations in several other cities were at risk of being removed from Suddenlink lineups.

“This fair resolution ensures that we can continue to provide top quality news, sports, entertainment and other local programming that is most important to you,” KXAN said on its website. “Thank you for supporting local television.”

Cable and satellite companies have sparred with TV stations in Austin and elsewhere many times in recent years over rising retransmission fees. Some companies have even added broadcast TV surcharges to customers’ bills to help recoup costs associated with carrying local stations.

Suddenlink and KXAN have clashed before, for instance, with the NBC affiliate disappearing from channel lineups for a couple months in early 2008. During much of the unusually long feud, Suddenlink replaced KXAN with Waco TV station KCEN.




KXAN ownership change set for Friday

Austin-based LIN Media is merging with Media General.
Austin-based LIN Media is merging with Media General.

Media General’s merger with Austin-based LIN Media has been approved by the Federal Communications Commission, clearing the way for the $1.6 billion deal to close Friday, the two companies said.

LIN Media owns or operates about 50 TV stations across the country, including three in Austin: NBC affiliate KXAN, CW affiliate KNVA and MyNetworkTV affiliate KBVO.

The combined company will use the Media General name, be traded on the New York Stock Exchange using Media General’s MEG ticker symbol and will be based out of Media General’s headquarters in Richmond, Va., although some corporate employees will continue to call Austin home.

First announced in March, the merger took nearly nine months to work its way through the federal approval process, including a review by the U.S. Department of Justice. To allay regulators’ concerns, the two companies agreed to sell off some stations in five cities where both LIN Media and Media General operate: Birmingham, Ala.; Mobile, Ala.; Savannah, Ga.; Providence, R.I.; and Green Bay, Wis.

“We will now move forward to quickly integrate our operations and build upon our shared values for providing relevant local journalism and deep community engagement, both of which strengthen our ties to viewers and advertisers,” J. Stewart Bryan III, chairman of the Media General board, said in a written statement. “The powerful combination of two strong local television broadcasters enhances our leadership position as we compete in the rapidly evolving media landscape, thus enabling us to deliver greater shareholder value.”

Post-merger, Media General will own or operate 71 stations in 48 cities, reaching 27.5 million U.S. households.

“The new Media General will have significant national reach and scale, numerous synergies, a diversified portfolio and, importantly, opportunities to grow our industry-leading digital business,” said LIN Media president and CEO Vincent Sadusky, who will take over as president and CEO of Media General. “We have an experienced and talented management team that is already hard at work on plans to bring our two great, complementary cultures together.”