PORTLAND – Gannett Co. announced Monday it had completed a complex purchase arrangement of Belo Corp., the owner of 20 TV stations including KGW.
The $2.2 billion acquisition of Dallas-based Belo now makes Gannett, the publisher of USA Today, the fourth largest owner of TV-network affiliates in the country and the largest newspaper chain in the nation.
"We are thrilled to combine these two storied media companies, both of which are known for award-winning journalism,” said Garcia Martore, President and Chief Executive Officer of Gannett. “The completion of this transaction marks a significant milestone in Gannett's ongoing transformation … in the rapidly evolving media business."
Belo Corp. owned 20 TV stations including KGW in Portland, King5 in Seattle, KREM in Spokane and KTVB in Boise.
Gannett currently owns the Salem Statesman-Journal, which operates in the same media market as KGW. Under Federal Communications Commission anti-trust rules, KGW will now be owned by Sanders Media, a holding company that will contract services through Gannett.
In cities where Gannett now owns two TV stations due to the acquisition, the company has agreed to sell one station off.
The intention to consolidate Belo with Gannett’s 23 stations was announced in June.
The move is part of Gannett’s effort to focus more on TV and digital news production. The merger will allow the company greater leverage in negotiating TV re-transmission fees, a growing source of revenue for local stations.
Martore told the Wall Street Journal in June that she expected the company would see about $175 million a year in savings within three years. Under the merger agreement, Gannett also acquired $715 million of Belo’s debt.
The US Department of Justice approved the acquisition Dec. 20 after it first considered petitions to deny the merger filed by a number of groups, including United Church of Christ Office of Communications, Inc., DIRECTV and Time Warner Cable.