Belo to Sell St. Louis CBS Station for DOJ to OK Gannett Acquisition

McLEAN, VA. and DALLAS — Gannett said KMOV-TV, the CBS and MeTV affiliate in the St. Louis market, would be sold in order to get the U.S. Department of Justice to OK its acquisition of Belo. The station groups announced last June that Gannett would acquire Belo in a deal valued at $2.2 billion.

Gannett, Belo and Sander Media LLC, a third-party operator that will acquire certain broadcast stations in markets where Gannett and Belo overlap, entered into a proposed consent decree with the DOJ where Gannett and Sander will divest substantially all of the assets used in the operation of Belo-owned KMOV-TV. The divesture is expected to occur in 2014.

The two broadcast groups said “the synergies associated with KMOV-TV were nominal given the structure of the Belo transaction, and Gannett expects very minimal impact on its previously disclosed projected annual run-rate synergies of $175 million within three years of closing of the Belo transaction.” Gannett owns KSDK-TV in St. Louis, the local NBC affiliate, which runs local AccuWeather on a digital subchannel.

The Belo transaction remains subject to approval by the Federal Communications Commission and other customary closing conditions.

The combination of the two groups ties Gannett as the fourth largest TV station group in the country, with 43 stations, 21 of them in the top 25 markets. Baltimore-based Sinclair is now No. 1 with 140 TV stations; ION Media of West Palm Beach, Fla., is next with 60 TV stations; and Nexstar of Irving, Texas, with 55 TV stations is next. LIN Media also has 43 TV stations.