The Dispatch Broadcast Group is selling its television and radio stations, including WBNS-10TV and WBNS AM and FM, to TEGNA Inc. The sale price is $535 million and includes a television station in Indianapolis.
TEGNA, of Tysons, Virginia, announced the purchase Tuesday morning. The company currently owns 49 television stations in 41 markets, and it is the largest group owner of NBC-affiliated stations and the second-largest group owner of CBS affiliated stations.
TEGNA was created on June 29, 2015, when the Gannett Company split into two publicly traded companies, one focusing on broadcast and the other on newspapers. TEGNA, whose name was derived from the letters in Gannett, owns two other Ohio stations — WKYC (Channel 3), an NBC affiliate in Cleveland, and WTOL (Channel 11), a CBS affiliate in Toledo.
The sale of the broadcast group brings to an end the Wolfe family’s Columbus media presence, one that stretched across more than a century and included newspapers, magazines, and radio and television stations.
The sale of the broadcast group follows the sale of The Dispatch to GateHouse Media for $47 million in June 2015. In announcing the sale of The Dispatch, then-publisher John F. Wolfe said, “The Wolfe family’s commitment to Columbus remains strong. We intend to remain active and engaged in our city’s civic life as we always have been.”
Get breaking news sent to you. Download our app
His family had owned the newspaper for 110 years, and they developed a dominant media presence in Columbus as early investors in radio and television. John F. Wolfe died at age 72 a year after the newspaper sale.
“After decades of proud service to the Columbus and Indianapolis communities, the Wolfe family determined this is the right time for a transition,” said Michael J. Fiorile, chairman and CEO of The Dispatch Printing Company and Dispatch Broadcast Group. “The family is grateful to have enjoyed strong community support for these stations over so many years and looks forward to continuing their support of these communities.”
>> Former Dispatch publisher John F. Wolfe dies at 72
>> Wigwam, Wolfe family’s retreat, being sold to Violet Township for community use
>> Columbus Dispatch print products sold to New Media Investment Group
He said the sale does not include Capitol Square Ltd., the Wolfe family’s commercial real estate business based at 34 S. 3rd St.
Included in the sale are:
• WBNS-TV (Channel 10), founded in 1949 by the Wolfe family. The CBS affiliate is a longtime market leader among central Ohio TV stations.
• WTHR-TV of Indianapolis (Channel 13), founded in 1957 by Crosley Broadcasting Corp. It was purchased by The Dispatch Broadcast Group in 1975.
• WBNS Radio (1460 AM and 97.1 FM). The original AM station, WCAH, was founded in 1922. The Wolfe family bought it in 1927 and changed the call letters to WBNS. The FM station dates to 1957 and is now the flagship station for live broadcasts of Ohio State University sports.
• WALV-CD, a UHF and digital channel operated by WTHR as a MeTV affiliate.
The sale requires approval by the Federal Communications Commission and the expiration or termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976. Fiorile said that is likely to come sometime after Labor Day.