Fox Television acquires KTVU-TV FOX 2 and KICU-TV 36; offers to pay $10 million for Seattle's KBCB TV

BENGALURU: Fox Television Stations (FTS) announced that it has acquired San Francisco-Bay Area stations KTVU-TV FOX 2 and KICU-TV 36 following the close of its previously announced swap agreement with Cox Media Group (CMG). 

The company’s parent 21st Century Fox has agreed to pay $10 million (about Rs 60 crore) to buy KBCB TV station in Seattle, in a move that follows a general strategy to buy stations in cities with National Football League (NFL) franchises.

With the addition of the San Francisco-Bay area stations, FTS now includes duopolies in seven of the top 10 US markets.   FTS also now owns stations in 12 markets with National Football Conference (NFC) teams, allowing it to further leverage the Company’s NFC broadcast package. 

In exchange for the newly-acquired stations, FTS transferred two owned-and-operated stations, WHBQ-TV FOX 13 and WFXT-TV FOX 25, located in the Memphis and Boston markets, respectively to CMG. Both stations will remain FOX affiliates, says FTS.

KBCB TV is a station owned by Venture Technologies Group. Seattle has a NFL team – the Seattle Seahawks and Fox sees value in owning TV stations in markets with an NFC team.

But acquiring the station may help Fox gain leverage to get what it really wants: KCPQ-TV Seattle, a much bigger station owned by Tribune Corp. KCPQ-TV is Fox’s current affiliate in the region and airs Seahawks games says a report by Wall Street Journal’s (WSJ) Joe Flint.

Flint in his report says that Fox has held talks with Tribune about trading one of its stations elsewhere in the US in exchange for KCPQ—at one point Fox even put a Chicago station on the table, though that offer no longer stands. But so far the talks have gone nowhere and have gotten increasingly acrimonious, according to people familiar with the talks. Fox informed Tribune last month that it would terminate the companies’ affiliation agreement for KCPQ-TV Seattle next January.

That will leave the Tribune station without Fox programming, including sports and prime-time entertainment, and could cause its ratings to dive. Industry observers say that move and the KBCB-TV purchase are aimed at ratcheting up pressure on Tribune to do a swap deal.

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