01.06.2003 12:00 PM
Tribune buys two ACME stations, leaving Kellner’s Firm virtually debt free

In a deal valued at $275 million cash, ACME Communications has agreed to sell two of its TV station properties — KPLR-TV (Ch. 11), St. Louis, Mo., and KWBP-TV (C. 32), Portland, Ore., both WB Television Network affiliates — to Tribune Broadcasting.

Jamie Kellner, chairman, CEO and founder of the WB Network, said ACME would use the proceeds from the transaction to substantially reduce debt, as well as for working capital and general corporate purposes. “As a result of today's transaction,” Kellner said, “we will be in a position to pay down nearly all of our debt, while turning our attention exclusively to improving and expanding our portfolio of developing assets.”

The acquired stations will expand Tribune’s television holdings into two additional top 30 markets and strengthen Tribune’s position as the largest affiliate group of the WB Network. St. Louis is the nation’s 22nd largest television market; Portland is the nation’s 23rd.

“As large market WB affiliates, these two stations will fit extremely well into our television group,” said Dennis FitzSimons, Tribune Company president and chief operating officer. “This is consistent with our strategy objective of extending Tribune’s reach to serve local viewers and advertisers in top 30 markets.”

“KPLR is one of the highest rated WB affiliates in the country,” added Pat Mullen, Tribune Television president. “Portland is a great new market for us and we are looking forward to growing KWBP through operational and programming advantages that extend from being part of a larger station group.”

The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close late in the first quarter of 2003. After the sale and the pending takeover of WBUW-TV Madison, Wisconsin, ACME will own nine TV stations — eight WB affiliates and one UPN affiliate. The deal will give Tribune 26 stations, 19 of them WB affiliates.

For more information visit www.tribune.com and www.thewb.com.

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