Here’s the latest installment in the media merger mania saga: Journal Communications shares are up 26.6% with E.W. Scripps +10.6% today after the companies unveiled a plan to merge TV operations and spin off their newspapers. The TV company will retain the E.W. Scripps name and be controlled by the Scripps family (which will retain control of the popular Scripps National Spelling Bee).
The company will become the No. 5 independent TV group, reaching 18% of all households with stations in 27 markets including eight political battleground states — Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin. Scripps will own affiliates for all of the Big Four networks, but will be especially important to ABC with 15 of its affiliates.
“In one motion, we’re creating an industry-leading local television company and a financially flexible newspaper company with the capacity and vision to help lead the evolution of their respective industries,” says Scripps CEO Rich Boehne, who will continue to run the TV company. He adds — as execs usually do when deals like this are announced — that the companies are “both driven by a deep commitment to public service through enterprise journalism.” Still, shareholders should see “significant value.”
The newspapers and their digital counterparts will go to Journal Media Group. It will have publications in 14 markets including the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Memphis Commercial Appeal.
The transaction, which will need federal approval, will be structured as a stock swap: When the dust settles, current Journal investors will own 31% of E.W. Scripps. and 41% of Journal Media. Scripps shareholders also will receive a $60M special dividend.