Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios buys 11 TV stations for $305 million

The epic move not only expands his broadcasting empire but will strengthen and improve the digital footprints of these local stations

Byron Allen
Byron Allen (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

Byron Allen, founder, and CEO of Entertainment Studios Networks (parent company of theGrio) has acquired 11 broadcast television stations from USA Television Holdings LLC and USA Television MidAmerica Holdings LLC (collectively, USA TV) for $305 million.

Allen Media Broadcasting, a division of Entertainment Studios, closed on the deal on Tuesday. This move signifies a commitment by Allen to expand his company’s broadcast holdings, reported Deadline.

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“Over the past six months we’ve invested nearly $500 million to acquire best-in-class, top-tier, broadcast network affiliates,” Allen said. “We plan to invest approximately $10 billion to acquire ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox television stations over the next three years with the goal of being one of the largest broadcast television groups in America.”

The move is expected to strengthen local coverage and improve the digital footprints of these local stations.

“These stations are dedicated to their local communities and this transaction will enable them to become even stronger on both their broadcast and digital platforms,” USA Television CEO Robert Prather, Jr. said according to Deadline.

Here are the stations covered by the USA TV deal:

  • WAAY, WAAY-D2 (ABC, ION) — Huntsville, Decatur, and Florence, Alabama
  • WFFT (Fox) — Ft. Wayne, Indiana
  • KEZI, KEZI-D2, KEZI-D3 (ABC, ION, METV) — Eugene, Oregon
  • KNVN*, KNVN-DT2*, KHSL, KHSL-D2, KHSL-D5 (NBC, Telemundo, CBS, CW, Ion) — Chico and Redding, California
  • WTVA, WLOV*, WTVA-D2 (NBC, Fox, ABC) — Columbus, Tupelo and West Point, Missouri
  • KDRV, KDRV-D2 (ABC, antenna TV) — Medford and Klamath Falls, Oregon
  • KIMT, KIMT-D2, KIMT-D3 (CBS, MyTV, Ion) — Rochester, Minnesota, Mason City, Iowa, and Austin, Minnesota
  • WTHI, WTHI-D2, WTHI-D3 (CBS, Fox, MyTV, CW) — Terre Haute, Indiana
  • WLFI, WLFI-D2, WLFI-D3 (CBS, CW, Ion) — Lafayette, Indiana

* operated through joint sales and services agreement

In 2015, Allen sued Comcast for discrimination, maintaining that the country’s largest cable company refused to pick up Entertainment Studios’ channels because of race. Comcast countered essentially that Allen must demonstrate that race was the only reason behind their decision. He sued under Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, a post-Civil War statute that allowed “all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States” to have the same right to uphold contracts “as is enjoyed by white citizens.”

READ MORE: Byron Allen arrives in Washington to take on Supreme Court

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that Allen’s claims were plausible. Last April, Comcast filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court following the judgment. Over the summer, the Trump DOJ filed an amicus brief with the court in support of Comcast.

The racial discrimination case was heard by the Supreme Court in November 2019 and according to Reuters, has an expected ruling that should be made by the end of June 2020.