SEATTLE, Wash. — KIMA-TV, Central Washington’s oldest television station and Yakima’s top-rated news broadcaster, will soon be owned by a Maryland company.
The station’s owner, Fisher Communications of Seattle, announced Thursday it will be acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group of Hunt Valley, Md., in a $373 million cash deal.
That means KIMA and Yakima’s Univision affiliate, KUNW, and 18 other Fisher stations, including Seattle’s KOMO, will be owned by Sinclair.
In the short term, there won’t be any changes to the local station, said David Isaacs of the San Francisco office of Sard Verbinnen & Co., the public relations firm acting as a Fisher spokesman.
“Until the transaction closes, it’s business as usual at Fisher,” he said in an email. “All of our stations will continue to deliver the high quality programming and advertising solutions that are expected of us.”
He did not address the post-sale fate of KIMA or other stations. David Praga, general manager of KIMA and its sister station in the Tri-Cities, KEPR, referred questions to Seattle, which referred them to the public relations firm. A statement by Sinclair President and CEO David Smith indicated a desire to continue Fisher’s tradition of providing top local news, but the statement focused on larger-market stations.
“We are excited to acquire Fisher and expand our coverage westward, especially in the two key markets of Seattle and Portland,” a news release on the sale quoted Smith as saying. “Started in 1910, Fisher’s history of operating television and radio stations in the northwest corner of the U.S. has played an important role in its communities and in producing high-quality local news. We look forward to expanding upon those traditions and improving the cash flow of the stations through the benefits that come with our scale.”
Yakima is the country’s 122nd largest TV market, according to the Nielsen Co. Seattle is 12th and Portland is 22nd.
KIMA became Central Washington’s first television station when it went on the air in 1953 and now has the only locally produced news shows in Yakima. Yakima’s two other major network affiliates now base their newscasts out of the Tri-Cities.
KIMA was founded by Yakima’s Cascade Broadcasting Co. Disney-affiliated Retlaw Broadcasting Corp. of North Hollywood bought the station in 1987 along with KEPR of the Tri-Cities and KLEW of Lewiston, Idaho, for a combined $17 million. Fisher announced in 1998 that it was buying KIMA and 10 other stations from Retlaw for $215 million, a deal that was finalized in 1999. At the time, that deal was hailed for putting KIMA back in the hands of a Northwest company.
Fisher has long been reported to be under pressure from major shareholders to find a buyer, and announced in January it had hired advisers to explore its options. The company said the transaction, which will pay shareholders $41 for each Fisher share, represents a 44 percent premium to its stock price in early January.
“Sinclair is the largest independent TV broadcaster in the country, and we believe its commitment to the industry — along with its greater scale and sizable resources — will provide our stations, team members and business partners with new opportunities to flourish,” Colleen B. Brown, Fisher’s President and CEO, said in a news release.
The deal is subject to Federal Communications Commission approval. But if it goes through — and if Sinclair’s announced purchases of 18 Barrington Broadcasting and four COX Media Group stations are finalized — Sinclair will own, operate, program or provide sales services to 134 television stations in 69 markets.
• The spelling of the last name of David Praga, general manager of KIMA and KEPR, has been corrected in this article.