KSTU-Channel 13 will soon become part of the biggest group of local TV stations in America. Salt Lake City's Fox affiliate and 18 other stations are being sold to the Tribune Company for $2.725 billion.
According to a Tribune spokesman, Utah viewers will not see any immediate changes on Fox 13. The deal has just been announced and won't close until the end of the year, so it's too early to get into any specifics.
KSTU has referred all questions to Tribune (but the local staff is reportedly ecstatic about the sale).
Tribune is ramping up its TV production business; those shows could well end up on KSTU and the rest of the stations group.
"It's one of the things thats so attractive about this deal," said Gary Weitman, Tribune's senior vice president of corporate communications.
And in the competitive syndication business, Fox 13 will be part of a powerful company that will be able to cut deals for the most desirable programming.
It will be interesting to see how much Tribune integrates its various news operations. Once the deal is completed -- probably by the end of the year -- KSTU will have strong partners in the nation's biggest TV markets.
The Tribune Company's holdings already include 23 television stations (including WGN in Chicago; KTLA in Los Angeles; and WPIX in New York) and eight newspapers (including the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times).
Tribune has been in talks to sell off its newspapers and become a television-centric company, and this is certainly a giant step in that direction.
"This is a transformational acquisition for Tribune," said Peter Liguori, Tribune's president and CEO. "It makes us the No. 1 local TV affiliate group in America, expands the distribution platform for our high-quality video content, and extends the reach of our digital products to new audiences across the country."
The former chairman of Fox Entertainment, Ligouri is a smart and personable guy who has been charged with remaking the Tribune Company.
Tribune was quick to point out that "because most of Local TV's stations are ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in revenue share in their respective markets, the transaction will generate significant free cash flow and be immediately accretive to Tribune's earnings."
That includes KSTU, which as been No. 2 - or No. 1 - in the Salt Lake TV market in terms of ad revenue for the past several years.
Once the deal is finalized, Tribune will own 42 stations, including 14 CW affiliates, 14 Fox affiliates, five CBS affiliates, three ABC affiliates, two NBC affiliates and four independents. Already the biggest CW affiliate group, it will become the top Fox affiliate group as well.
Local TV, which is controlled Oak Hill Capital Partners, a private equity firm, bought KSTU and seven other stations from Fox in 2008.