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WLEX TV is up for sale, along with the other stations owned by its parent company

WLEX-TV has been sold, along with 14 other Cordillera stations, to the E.W. Scripps Company.
WLEX-TV has been sold, along with 14 other Cordillera stations, to the E.W. Scripps Company. WLEX-TV

WLEX-TV 18, Lexington’s NBC affiliate, is up for sale along with the other 10 stations owned by its parent company Cordillera Communications.

“This is just kind of the way of the business, right now,” WLEX President and General Manager Pat Dalbey said, Monday morning. “A lot of companies that are traditional broadcast companies are getting with bigger groups. They need to, to kind of survive.

“As good as we’ve done, we’ll probably be better served if we’re in a bigger group that has more clout with the networks. We feel like we’ve done very well, but I think our best days are ahead of us, and someone will recognize that and want to take ownership.”

Lexington is the largest market in the Cordillera group’s holdings, which includes stations in Tucson, Arizona; Lafayette, Louisiana, and a number of stations in Montana.

St. Paul, Minnesota-based Cordillera is the broadcast arm of Charleston, South Carolina-based Evening Post Industries, which has essentially decided to get out of the TV business, according to the website tvnewscheck.com.

pat dalbey.JPG
Pat Dalbey Courtesy WLEX

In June, Lexington CBS affiliate WKYT was part of parent company Gray Television’s purchase of Raycom Media, making it the third-largest broadcasting company in the country.

Dalbey said the company intends to sell its stations as a group, though things can happen in the sale process. Ideally, he said, a buyer would be identified before the end of the year and a sale would be completed next year.

As the largest station in the group, WLEX will likely be prominent in sales pitches, but Dalbey said he thought the overall portfolio should be attractive, calling it a “boutique” group of stations.

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“We’ve enjoyed being under the Evening Post Industries ownership for a long time; I think they’ve owned this station for 18 years,” Dalbey said. “They’ve always been wonderful owners. ... To see that end is disheartening. We liked working for those people, and they were very good to us. But we understand their needs to diversify, and we understand the TV industry’s need to consolidate.

“So this was not unexpected. ... We’re interested to get the process started and see who will be our next ownership group.”

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LEX 18's Alan Cutler last day on television before retirement is Saturday, coinciding with the 144th Kentucky Derby. Cutler is a longtime sportscaster for the Lexington NBC affiliate.

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