Clear Channel sells TV stations

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Clear Channel Communications Inc. has agreed to sell its group of 56 TV stations in 24 markets to private-equity firm Providence Equity Partners for about $1.2 billion.

The country's largest radio station owner, which faces a shareholder vote May 8 on a sweetened buyout bid, said it expects $1.1 billion in proceeds from the proposed TV transaction, which is not contingent on the buyout.

In the TV deal, Providence is partnering with broadcast veteran Sandy DiPasquale, president and CEO of BlueStone Television, which Providence and DiPasquale formed.

The companies said Friday that the Clear Channel TV stations' associated Web sites, the firm's Television Operations Center and Inergize Digital Media, which manages the TV group's online and wireless initiatives, are included in the sale, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Clear Channel owns 10 CW, eight Fox, seven NBC, six ABC, six CBS, four MyNetworkTV, two NBC Weather Plus, two Telemundo and five independent stations, plus six stations affiliated with its own Variety Television Network. The stations are in small to midsized markets like Salt Lake City, Cincinnati, Memphis, Tenn., San Antonio, Fresno, Calif., and Jacksonville, Fla.

"This is a rare opportunity to acquire a premier collection of broadcast television stations with strong positions in many attractive markets across the U.S.," Providence managing director Al Dobron said.

Added DiPasquale: "These are well-run, quality television stations. I look forward to continuing my partnership with Providence Equity and working with the talented CCTV employees to build on their success integrating broadcast and Internet services to serve their communities."

Clear Channel CEO Mark Mays lauded the stations' "outstanding record of achievement, innovation and community service," saying the company "will miss the important role they have played in the Clear Channel family."

Clear Channel also provided an update on its attempts to divest 448 radio stations in 88 markets. So far, it has agreed to sell 161 stations in 34 markets for about $331 million, or net proceeds of about $300 million.

It added that it continues to pursue the sale of 287 additional radio stations in 54 markets but couldn't guarantee a deal.
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