Family plans to sell Weather Channel parent

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NORFOLK, Va. -- The family that owns Landmark Communications will announce Thursday that it plans to sell the company, which owns the Weather Channel and nine daily newspapers, according to its flagship newspaper, The Virginian-Pilot.

The privately held, Norfolk-based company could be sold in pieces, the newspaper reported on its Web site Wednesday night.

JPMorgan Chase is advising the company on the sale of the Weather Channel, which is based in Atlanta and is one of the last privately owned cable channels in the United States. Lehman Brothers is helping with the sale of the company's other media assets, the newspaper reported.

The company, which had $1.75 billion in sales in 2006, employs about 12,000. It is parent to nine daily papers, including The Roanoke Times in Virginia and The News & Record of Greensboro, N.C., and more than 100 nondaily newspapers and specialty publications.

In addition to The Weather Channel and its Web site, Landmark owns television stations in Las Vegas and Nashville, Tenn., and Norfolk-based Dominion Enterprises, a national chain of classified-ad publications.

Frank Batten Sr., who is in ailing health, helped build the company after taking over as publisher of the local newspaper in 1954.

"The thing I think I'm most proud of is developing what I think is a first-rate company that has high values and makes a contribution to all the communities we serve," Batten said in 2000.
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