Daily Press owner Tribune Company announced on Monday it will acquire 19 television stations, including WTKR in Norfolk.
The $2.7 billion cash purchase of Local TV Holdings LLC stations will make Tribune the largest local TV broadcaster in the United States, officials said.
WGNT in Norfolk and WTVR in Richmond are also included in the purchase. The deal also includes stations in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.
WTKR President and General Manager Jeff Hoffman declined to comment on the deal.
"The Daily Press has worked with WTKR on various news and sales initiatives in the past," said Digby Solomon, Daily Press Media Group president and CEO. "We look forward to working more with them in the future."
The acquisition requires Federal Communications Commission approval, which could be a problem with the Daily Press and WTKR. The FCC prohibits a company from owning both a daily newspaper and a top-four-rated TV station in the same market.
Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman said the company will do everything necessary to be in compliance with the law.
"We think there are significant benefits for the community to owning both a newspaper and a TV station in the same market," he said. "We are considering all our options to overcome the cross-ownership issue in Virginia."
Local TV, principally owned by New York private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners, operates 21 stations. Two are already owned by Tribune, which currently owns 23 stations and eight newspapers.
The deal is expected to close at the end of 2013.
According to Tribune, the acquisition will improve advertising opportunities and allow the company to take advantage of a larger footprint across which it will distribute its video and digital content.
The purchase is part of Tribune's strategic plan to build its multimedia capabilities.
"This is a transformational acquisition for Tribune — it makes us the no. 1 local TV affiliate group in America, expands the distribution platform for our high-quality video content, and extends the reach of our digital products to new audiences across the country," Tribune President and CEO Peter Liguori said in a prepared statement. "We couldn't be more excited about Tribune's future as America's leader in creating and distributing original content and local news programming."
The purchase follows Tribune's December 2012 emergence from bankruptcy protection and recent talk about possibly selling its newspapers.
Liguori told employees in a memo May 15 he had received a great deal of unsolicited interest in the company's publishing business. But he said any possible sale of the newspapers was speculation and premature.
"A sale transaction is only one of our possible strategic options, and there are many others," he said.