Sean Compton

Nexstar Media Group has closed its purchase of Tribune Media Company in a blockbuster transaction valued at $7.2 billion, including the assumption of Tribune’s debt. Nexstar paid $46.687397 per share in cash, including a 19-cent premium for not getting the deal to the finish line by the original Aug. 31 closing date target.

The mega deal creates the nation’s largest pure-play local broadcast television and digital media company, reaching roughly 39% of U.S. television households when the FCC’s UHF discount is factored in.

The closing marks the return of Sean Compton to radio after a nearly 12-year absence. Once the No. 2 programming exec at Clear Channel Radio (now iHeartMedia), Compton has been named Executive VP of WGN America, WGN Radio and Director of Content Acquisition. One of three former members of Tribune’s senior management team, Compton will manage the iconic radio station along with the nationally distributed cable TV channel, both former Tribune properties, as well as the digital multicast television network, Antenna TV. He’ll also oversee Nexstar’s programming acquisitions across all television platforms.

Compton’s radio experience dates back to the Randy Michaels-era of Jacor Communications and brands like Tampa’s “Power Pig” WFLZ, and WEBN when the Cincinnati rocker proudly proclaimed itself “The Lunatic Fringe of American FM.” Compton joined Jacor in 1992 as a show producer and became part of then-Jacor CEO Michaels’ tight-knit group. Clear Channel bought Jacor in 1998.

After cinching the purchase, Nextar completed the spinoff of 21 television stations in separate sales to Tegna, Scripps and Circle City Broadcasting for a combined $1.33 billion. The price includes a purchase price adjustment for two Indianapolis stations sold to Circle City.

In a move likely to win over investors, the company says it now expects first year operating synergies of $185 million, up from its earlier estimate of $160 million.

“Nexstar Media Group is now the nation’s leading creator and distributor of local news, entertainment, sports, lifestyle and network programming through its broadcast and digital media platforms based on U.S. TV household reach with pro-forma 2018/2019 average annual revenue of approximately $4.3 billion,” Chairman, President and CEO Perry Sook said in a news release. “With 197 full power, owned or serviced, television stations in 115 markets, consistent, high margin contributions from its TV Food Network ownership stake, positive cash flow from the national cable network WGN, growing digital media operations, and the onset of 2020 political spending, Nexstar is entering its next growth cycle. Our platform expansion elevates Nexstar’s ability to deliver superior engagement across all devices, including large-scale reach to online users as combined active users of Nexstar and Tribune Media websites would be the nation’s top site for news and information as ranked by Comscore.”