Post Co. Ends Deal to Buy NBC TV Station

By Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Washington Post Co. said yesterday that it has terminated a deal to buy NBC Universal's WTVJ in Miami because of a delay in getting the necessary regulatory approval and the poor economic environment.

The Post Co. said in July that it planned to buy WTVJ, which would have given it a second television station in that market. At the time, Post Co. executives had hoped to close the deal by the end of this year.

But the company failed to get approval from the Federal Communications Commission quickly enough to meet that timetable. In addition, market conditions changed.

"The deal was structured so that it would be approved in a somewhat timely manner, and for unknown reasons it wasn't," Alan Frank, president and chief executive of Post-Newsweek Stations, said in an interview. "In the meantime, the economy has changed, and therefore when both parties looked at the agreement again, it was more appropriate to not go forward and terminate the agreement."

Post-Newsweek Stations owns six television stations and has not bought one since 1994. The Post Co. has owned Miami's top-rated WPLG, an ABC affiliate, since 1969. Buying WTVJ was seen as a way for the company to create a two-station group that would help increase revenue while lowering costs by combining the stations' operations.

NBC Universal, owned by General Electric, put WTVJ up for sale in March.

Laura Martin, a senior media analyst for Soleil Securities Group, said it was "not at all surprising" that the deal was not going forward.

"Everybody who negotiated a deal before September should renegotiate a lower price because financing has become more expensive and growth projections are slowing," she said. "We think it makes a lot of sense for them to be backing out. Whatever you thought the revenue was going to be, it is going to be less because we're in a recession."

© 2008 The Washington Post Company