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Aug 30 2007

WTAE, WGAL parent company to go private


The largest investor in WTAE-TV’s parent company plans to take the corporation private.

According to The Hollywood Reporter and other sources, Hearst Corp. wants to buy the approximately 26 percent of Hearst-Argyle Television that it doesn’t already own. (Company press release here.)

Hearst-Argyle was formed in 1997 by a merger between Argyle Television Holdings and Hearst’s broadcasting division, which then included a mix of TV and radio stations, including Pittsburgh’s former WTAE (1250) and WDRV-FM (96.1). (The company still retains an AM/FM combo in Baltimore, though the other radio outlets have been divested.)

The company currently trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “HTV.” The acquisition of the remaining shares of Hearst-Argyle would cost Hearst Corp. an estimated $600 million, according to AP.

Founded by legendary mogul William Randolph Hearst and still controlled by his descendants, Hearst Corp. owns several of the most influential U.S. newspapers, including the Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle and Seattle Post-Intelligencer, along with magazines like Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s Bazaar, O, Popular Mechanics, Redbook and Seventeen.

Besides WTAE-TV, Hearst-Argyle owns 25 TV stations, including 12 ABC affiliates and 10 NBC affiliates, like Central Pennsylvania’s WGAL-TV (8). Hearst also owns 20 percent of ESPN and part of the Lifetime and A&E cable networks.