Scripps begins divesting Ion stations ahead of acquisition

More than one-third of Ion Media's owned-and-operated stations will be sold to an investment firm for $45 million.
The logo of Ion Television. (Logo: Ion/Scripps, Graphic: The Desk)

The E. W. Scripps Company has agreed to digest more than two dozen Ion Media Television-owned stations to a holding firm once its blockbuster merger with the program network is complete, according to filings made with federal regulators.

Last week, Scripps said it had agreed to divest 25 full-power Ion Media stations and one low-power station to Inyo Holdings, LLC, a shell company whose chief executive officer, John Chachas, serves as an investment banker and financial advisor to media companies.

The number represents more than one-third of the Ion Media owned-and-operated stations across the United States. As of October, Ion Media owned 60 broadcast stations affiliated with its three broadcast networks (Ion, Ion Plus and Qubo).

The divested stations include two on the West Coast: San Francisco Ion station KKPX (Channel 33) and Spokane, Washington station KGPX (Channel 34). Those stations are expected to continue to affiliate with Ion and sign on other Scripps networks, including its 24-hour news network Newsy, once the deal is complete.

Inyo Broadcast Holdings is expected to pay $45.45 million to acquire the 25 full-power licenses and one low-power license from Scripps once its acquisition of Ion Media is finalized.

Other stations, including Denver’s KPXC (Channel 18), are being sold in markets where Scripps intends to acquire another station. Last month, the company agreed to purchase independent station KCDO (Channel 3) in that market, and it is assumed Ion will move its affiliation from KPXC to KCDO once that deal is complete.

The swap will end with Scripps owning two stations in Denver: It already operates ABC affiliate KMGH-TV (Channel 7).

Not on the chopping block are several other Ion Media-owned stations on the West Coast, including Los Angeles stations KPXN (Channel 30) and KILM (Channel 64), Sacramento station KSPX (Channel 29), Portland station KPXG (Channel 22) and Seattle station KWPX (Channel 33). As of Wednesday, these stations were still expected to come under Scripps’ ownership once the deal is consummated.

If those stations do retain their owned-and-operated status, it would give Scripps entry into each of those markets for the first time.

Thanks for reading and supporting The Desk. If you have a question, comment or news tip, send a message by email or text, or connect on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Also, check out our new membership service The Desk: Pro Access for exclusive reporting, news scoops and in-depth analysis.