USA Today owner Gannett to buy KING parent Belo for $1.5B

king5Big acquisition in the media world this morning: Belo Corp., the parent company of television stations including Seattle’s KING-TV, has agreed to be acquired by USA Today owner Gannett Co. for $1.5 billion in cash.

The deal will add 20 television stations to Gannett’s portfolio, nearly doubling the Virginia-based company’s TV holdings. Belo, based in Dallas, has a stronghold in the Pacific Northwest with stations in cities including Seattle, Portland and Spokane, in addition to the NorthWest Cable News channel.

Gannett says in a news release that the deal creates a “Super Group” of broadcast stations, making the company the fourth-largest owner of major network affiliates. Gracia Martore, Gannett’s president and CEO, says the deal will allow the company to “lead innovation, bolster our existing growth initiatives and take advantage of new opportunities in the emerging digital media landscape.”

The acquisition includes the assumption of $715 million in debt, bringing the total value of the deal to more than $2.2 billion.

Shares of both companies jumped in the range of 25 percent on the news.

Note: GeekWire is a media partner of KING-TV and KING5.com.