Owner of local NBC station plans merger

Media General’s WCBD-TV 2 studio and offices are on Coleman Boulevard and McGrath Darby Boulevard in Mount Pleasant. (Staff/File)

Yalonda M. James

The owner of Charleston’s NBC television affiliate plans to merge with a Nashville-based broadcaster to create a bigger company with more power to negotiate deals with content providers and cable carriers.

Media General Inc. and New Young Broadcasting Holding Co. said Thursday that their combined businesses would operate 30 TV stations in 27 markets, including San Francisco, Nashville and Richmond, Va.

Togather they will reach 14 percent of U.S. television households.

Media General’s stable of stations includes WCBD-TV 2 in Mount Pleasant.

The companies said the all-stock deal will give Young shareholders majority ownership, but Media General will initially have the majority of board seats.

The headquarters will be in Richmond, where Media General is currently based. Media General will be the name of the combined company, and George Mahoney, its CEO, will stay in that role.

Mahoney said in a statement Thursday that he is “very excited about the wonderful opportunities that lie ahead for the new Media General.”

“Our stations and Young’s have earned excellent reputations as leading local content providers,” he said. “In working with the Young management and owners over the past several months, it’s clear that we share strong values for customer focus and innovation and a commitment to harnessing the future in an age of rapid change. ... We see opportunities for organic growth and other expansion.”

If approved, the deal is expected to close in the third or fourth quarter of this year.

The companies said their merged stations will be more geographically diverse and will operate in more markets with strong political advertising revenues.

Also, by teaming up, the companies said they will gain bargaining power when buying rights to syndicated programming, selling ads and collecting fees from cable and satellite TV companies that carry their stations.

Media General bought WCBD in 1983, when it was an ABC affiliate. The station made the switch to NBC in 1996.

Media General currently owns 18 network-affiliated stations, including CBS carrier WBTW in Myrtle Beach. Young owns or operates 12.

Their merger comes as the owner of another Charleston area broadcaster, WCIV-TV 4, seeks a buyer for the Mount Pleasant-based ABC affiliate and other stations to focus on other business ventures.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.