(USA Today) -- Consolidation in the TV market is picking up speed.
Tribune Co. said Monday it has agreed to buy 19 local TV stations from Local TV Holdings for $2.7 billion in cash, a deal that boosts its presence in key markets and makes it one of the largest TV station owners in the U.S.
After the deal closes, Tribune will have 42 stations in 16 markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Seattle. In a statement, Tribune says "most of Local TV's stations are ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in revenue share" in their markets, and the transaction will generate "significant free cash flow."
Tribune, which also owns 10 daily newspapers, including Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, plans to distribute more video and digital content through its TV and digital properties, and the acquisition gives it more options to offer advertisers.
"Since joining Tribune in early 2013, we have been setting the strategic foundation to transform Tribune and help chart the path forward - building our multimedia capabilities and asset portfolio to become the country's leading independent content creator and distributor," said Peter Liguori, Tribune CEO. "This is a transformational acquisition for Tribune."
Tribune's new broadcast portfolio will include 14 CW affiliates, 14 Fox affiliates, five CBS affiliates, three ABC affiliates, two NBC affiliates and four independents. It will own 14 stations in the country's top 20 markets and become the largest Fox affiliate group, the company said. Local TV is principally owned by private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners.
The deal comes less than a month after a competitor, Gannett, signed on a similar deal to nearly double its TV station business. On June 13, McLean, Va.-based Gannett, which publishes USA TODAY, agreed to buy Belo's TV stations for $2.2 billion, increasing its broadcast portfolio from 23 to 43 stations.
Gannett is the parent company of both WXIA and WATL here in Atlanta.
More deals for consolidation also could be brewing in the cable TV industry, as investors are drawn to the possibility of combining pay-TV service with Internet subscriptions to keep viewers under one tent.
Cable TV pioneer John C. Malone is interested in a deal for Time Warner Cable, according to a report in The New York Times Monday.
Citing unnamed sources, the report said Malone, chairman of Liberty Media, would have Charter Communications acquire TWC. Liberty owns 27% of Charter.
If Malone pulls off the deal, the Times report says, he would use the combined company to further consolidation in the cable industry.
As for the Tribune deal, analysts had speculated the company would make a further push into TV since the it emerged from bankruptcy in December. Having undergone four years of Chapter 11 reorganization, the company has been looking to sell its newspapers and focus on more profitable ventures in TV and digital properties.
By acquiring Local TV's stations, Tribune will have about $3.5 billion in consolidated revenue and $1.1 billion in earnings before interest, taxes and other items, the company said.
It also estimates more than $100 million in "synergies" -- largely derived from increased revenue -- within five years, it said.
The deal, financed by debt, is expected to close by the end of 2013.