WLEX-TV 18, Lexington’s NBC affiliate, has been sold. The station had been for sale since early August.
The E.W. Scripps Company announced Monday that it is acquiring 15 television stations, including WLEX, from Cordillera Communications, for a combined price of $521 million, according to a news release. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019.
Scripps said that the stations in 10 markets will increase its TV reach to 51 stations in 36 markets, nearly 21 percent of U.S. TV households. Other markets involved in this purchase include Colorado Springs, Colo.; Lafayette, La.; Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Corpus Christi, Texas; and Missoula, Billings, Butte-Boseman, Great Falls and Helena, Mont.
The 10 markets employ about 700 people, according to the release which did not say if any employees will be impacted by the change in ownership.
“Through this transaction, Scripps will operate the No. 1-rated TV stations in a third of its markets, enhancing the durability of our portfolio,” said Brian Lawlor, president of local media for Scripps.
Pat Dalbey, WLEX-TV 18 president and general manager, said Monday afternoon that the new owners have indicated they don’t intend to change much at least for now.
“As we get into the new ownership, of course we have to be flexible,” Dalbey said. “The industry is consolidating and you have to be larger to compete … we get to join one of the largest family-owned, publicly traded groups in the country. And they know how to run really good television stations. They think they can learn from us, and we can learn from them.”
It’s a good place to be in, Dalbey said.