One of two television stations owned by Landmark Media Enterprises who also owns The Roanoke Times has been sold to a Wisconsin company.WTVF NewsChannel 5, a CBS affiliate out of Nashville, Tenn. was one of two television stations owned by Landmark. The buyer, Journal Communications, Inc., a publically traded company (NYSE:JRN) is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They paid $215 million in cash for the NewsChannel 5 network.
The deal was inked September 4 and after receiving FCC approval closed Thursday, December 6 as reported by The Virginian-Pilot, Greensboro News & Record both also Landmark owned. Landmark still owns KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In 2008 Landmark had a deal with Bonten Media Group to sell the NewsChannel 5 Network for $200 million but that deal with the New York company fell through during the financial crisis. WTVF is one of the top three CBS affiliates in the nation based on their ratings.
All of Landmarks assets including The Roanoke Times were pulled off the market in 2008. It was impossible for any interested buyer to secure credit. The sale of the TV station by Landmark is the first property they have sold since September 2008 when they sold The Weather Channel Cos. to NBC Universal for about $3.5 billion.
Media General has sold all its newspapers including the Richmond Times-Dispatch to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. Media General kept their TV stations including Roanoke’s WSLS Channel 10. They celebrate 60 years of broadcasting this week.
The PilotOnline.com reported that:
“Executives at Landmark have said they hoped to sell its businesses, including The Virginian-Pilot, when the economy improves. But Rusty Friddell, executive vice president of Landmark, said Tuesday that none of them is ‘on the market at this time.’
Landmark is selling WTVF, Friddell said, because “a couple of months ago we had a number of inquiries about the Nashville station, including several from some very strong broadcast groups, so we decided to test the market.”
As reported The Virginian-Pilot, Landmark CEO, Frank Batten Jr., said in November 2011 that Landmark properties might not be divested for at least five years. He made a similar prediction earlier during a talk at the University of Richmond’s Robins School of Business Executive Speaker Series. “It’s just a guess. It all depends on the economy.”
This led Mike Sutter Editor of the Greensboro – Winston-Salem – High Point Triad “The Business Journal” to question the definition of “on the market.” Sutter wondered if it meant that the Greensboro News & Recordwas for sale. Whether “on the market” or off the market available credit would drive future sales of any or all of Landmark’s assets.