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Raycom-Gray merger would create 3rd-largest TV station group in US

ATLANTA (AP) — Gray Television Inc. and Raycom Media Inc. are announcing a merger that would create the third-largest television broadcast group in the United States.

Georgia-based Gray and Alabama-based Raycom said Monday that they’ve entered into an agreement to combine the companies in a $3.6 billion deal.

The combined operation would have more than 140 television stations serving 92 markets, the companies said in a statement. The communities range from large TV markets such as Cleveland and Tampa-Sarasota, Florida, to small markets such as Ottumwa, Iowa, and Presque Isle, Maine.

“Combining our company with the excellent Raycom stations and the superb Raycom employees will create a powerhouse local media operation,” Hilton Howell Jr., Gray’s chairman, president and CEO, said.

Pat LaPlatney, Raycom Media’s President and CEO, said, “We are thrilled to be joining Gray Television as we share the same core values of journalistic excellence and community service.”

Raycom subsidiary Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. is not part of the deal, as Raycom has begun the process of selling or spinning off CNHI, according to the statement.

CNHI operates more than 100 newspapers in 22 states. CNHI has retained a newspaper brokerage firm to explore selling the company, according to a statement posted Monday on CNHI’s website.

“We are looking for a transaction or transactions that will carry on CNHI’s rich tradition of public service through award-winning journalism,” CNHI president and CEO Donna Barrett said in the statement.

Gray is a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange. Raycom and CNHI are financed by the Retirement Systems of Alabama, which manages state employee pension funds.

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