Media merger would create 3rd-largest TV station group in US

Gray Television Inc. and Raycom Media Inc. are announcing a merger that would create the third-largest television broadcast group in the United States.

Georgia-based Gray and Alabama-based Raycom said Monday they've entered into an agreement to combine the companies in a $3.6 billion deal.

Headquartered in Montgomery, Ala., Raycom Media, owns or provides services for over 60 television stations in 20 states. That includes WBTV, an affiliate of CBS and a news partner of the Charlotte Observer. The station employs 162 people at its building off of Morehead Street.

Raycom Media also owns Charlotte-based Raycom Sports, a broadcast company that provides programming of sporting events, including ACC football and basketball.

In a statement, Gray and Raycom said the combined firm will have more than 140 television stations serving 92 markets. The communities range from large TV markets such as Cleveland and Tampa-Sarasota, Fla., to small markets like Ottumwa, Iowa, and Presque Isle, Maine.

The companies said Raycom subsidiary Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., which owns newspapers in nearly two dozen states, is not part of the deal as it will be sold or spun off.

Raycom and CNHI are financed by the Retirement Systems of Alabama, which manages state employee pension funds.

Observer reporter Hannah Lang contributed to this report.