CHICAGO, Illinois – WQAD News 8 is to be part of the largest television company in America as the Tribune Company, owner of WGN-TV and the “Chicago Tribune”, buy News 8 and the rest of the Local TV LLC group for $2.725 Billion.
The Tribune Company says the purchase will add 19 television station, including WQAD-TV, to the 23 stations already owned by Tribune. The Tribune Company says it will now become the country’s largest commercial television station owner.
It comes on the heels of two other television broadcast purchases announced in the past few weeks. In June, MediaGeneral announced it would merge with Young Broadcasting, the owner of Davenport’s KWQC-TV.
“You go back to the old days of the airline industry and you saw the consolidation and it made a lot of sense,” says News 8 investment adviser Phil Kassewitz. “I think you’re seeing that whole sort of thing in the media because there are so many types of media outlets now,” he added.
“So I think the consolidation is really what you’re going to continue to see.”
WQAD is marking its 50th year of broadcasting this year, signing on the air August 1, 1963. It was launched by the Moline Television Corporation, a group of local businessmen.
The sale to the Tribune Company marks the third publishing company to own the station. WQAD’s founders sold the station 35 years ago, in 1978, to “The Des Moines Register-Tribune”.
In turn, the “Des Moines Register” sold the station to “The New York Times” Company in 1985.
In 2007, WQAD and the other stations in the New York Times Broadcast Group were sold to an investment firm, Oak Hill Capital Partners. The investors named the new station group Local TV LLC.
With the purchase, WQAD will be a sister station to well known broadcasters including WGN-TV (Chicagoi), KTLA (Los Angeles), WPIX (New York), WHO-TV (Des Moines), WITI (Milwaukee), and WJW (Cleveland). Other stations are located in Denver, Houston, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Seattle.
The Tribune Company also has partnerships with “The Food Network”, careerbuilder.com, and other cable and web companies.
“Because they can do so many different things, they can expand out to the internet and the social media,” says Kassewitz.
“It really makes a lot of sense to do that and, again, I think this is a trend you’re going to continue to see.”
The deal still must be approved by the boards of both companies and is subject to approval from the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission. It’s expected to be completed by the end of the year.