Journal Communications Inc. of Milwaukee and E.W. Scripps Co. of Cincinnati have an agreement to merge broadcasting operations while spinning off newspaper holdings into a separate public entity, the companies announced late Wednesday.
The newspaper component, Journal Media Group, will be headquartered in Milwaukee and operate in 14 markets, according to news releases from the companies. It will combine Journal Communications' Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, community publications and digital products with Scripps' daily newspapers, including the Memphis Commercial Appeal, plus community and digital products.
Meanwhile, Journal Communications' broadcast assets will be folded into Scripps, with headquarters remaining in Cincinnati. The company will own and operate TV and radio stations serving 27 markets, making it the fifth-largest independent TV group in the country, according to the releases.
"On both sides of this transaction we feel there is great value, great logic and a great cultural fit," Steven J. Smith, chairman and chief executive officer of Journal Communications, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Smith will serve as the non-executive chairman of Journal Media.
Tim Stautberg, senior vice president of newspapers for Scripps, will become president, CEO and a director of Journal Media. Richard A. Boehne will remain as board chairman, president and CEO of Scripps, the releases said.
The companies say both boards of directors have approved the deal, which is expected to close in 2015. Shareholders and regulators must also approve it.
Scripps shareholders will own 69 percent of the combined broadcasting company and 59 percent of Journal Media Group. Journal Communications shareholders will own 31 percent of the broadcasting company and 41 percent of the newspaper group. Scripps shareholders will also receive a $60 million cash dividend.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee will remain under Scripps' stewardship, according to the releases.