Raycom buying WVUE New Orleans for $52M

The sale is the catalyst of a 500-acre, mixed-use development planned alongside the Belle Terre in LaPlace, La.

Raycom Media said it has reached a purchase agreement for WVUE FOX 8 in New Orleans.

According to BIA/Kelsey, the deal is valued at $51.9 million and has been submitted to the FCC for approval.

The move to buy the station comes after Raycom has been managing the station for the Louisiana Media Company since December 2013. Raycom said that the partnership has helped WVUE earn journalistic honors and experience “significant ratings growth” in the New Orleans market.

"We have enjoyed our partnership with Tom Benson, Dennis Lauscha and Louisiana Media Company," said Pat LaPlatney, Raycom Media president and CEO, in a statement. "We are very proud and respectful of the commitment of Mr. Benson and the staff of FOX 8 to the people of New Orleans and Louisiana. Raycom Media has a proud heritage throughout Louisiana and we will continue to serve the community and our viewers with the highest of standards."

"With the ever-changing media landscape, we believe it is in the best interest of the station to sell and transfer control to our media partners at Raycom Media. They have been a great partner over the last few years and shown remarkable dedication and commitment to our community," said Benson, who owns Louisiana Media Company and the New Orleans Saints.

Raycom Media it will continue its partnership with Benson and the Saints. Benson will reportedly retain a minority ownership stake in WVUE.

RELATED: U.S. broadcast M&A volume reached $2.7B in Q1: report

Raycom’s deal for WVUE comes after a relatively slow first quarter for TV broadcast M&A. U.S. broadcast M&A volume hit a fairly high $2.7 billion mark during the quarter but the overwhelming majority of that money was tied to CBS’s blockbuster radio merger with Entercom.

But broadcast TV consolidation could be due for a big uptick especially now that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has made clear his ambition to restore the UHF discount which will make it easier for TV station groups to stick to the 39% market reach cap enforced on broadcast TV station owners.