Nexstar Completes Tribune Acquisition, Sean Compton to Head Programming

Cynthia Littleton

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Nexstar Media Group has become the nation’s largest owner of TV stations after completing its $4.1 billion acquisition of Tribune Media.

The deal creates a broadcasting colossus with more than 200 stations serving more than 100 markets, although a number of stations will be divested to keep Nexstar in compliance with FCC ownership limits.

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Nexstar, based in Irving, Texas, said Thursday it will recruit several key players from Tribune Media to its management team.

Sean Compton, formerly head of programming for Tribune Broadcasting, will serve as exec VP of WGN America, WGN Radio and director of content acquisition. Dana Zimmer becomes exec VP and chief distribution and strategy officer. Gary Weitman, Tribune’s long-serving spokesman, will serve as Nexstar’s exec VP and chief communications officer.

“The completion of our accretive acquisition of Tribune Media increases Nexstar’s geographic diversity and audience reach with national coverage and an expanded presence in top 50 DMAs, while offering complementary media assets and investments, scale driven synergies and further cash flow diversification,” said Nexstar CEO Perry Sook. “Nexstar Media Group is now the nation’s leading creator and distributor of local news, entertainment, sports, lifestyle and network programming through its broadcast and digital media platforms.”

Nexstar initially reached its merger agreement with Tribune in December. That came four months after Tribune’s previous takeover deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group fell apart, partly because of the heavy regulatory scrutiny on the transaction and Sinclair’s aggressive approach with the FCC to handling divestitures. Tribune and Sinclair both filed lawsuits against each other over the deal’s collapse.

Nexstar has been one of the industry’s fastest growing broadcast station groups since it was founded by Sook in 1996 with one station in Scranton, Pa.

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(Pictured: Sean Compton)

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