Media General announced plans Tuesday to buy rival Meredith Corp. for $3.1 billion, including debt, to create the third-largest owner of local US television stations.
The deal would combine Media General's 71 local stations with 17 operated by Meredith, and include the magazines owned by Meredith such as Better Homes and Gardens, Allrecipes, Parents and Shape.
Virginia-based Media General agreed to pay $2.4 billion in cash and stock and assume $772 million in debt in the deal approved by both boards and expected to close in 2016.
"This merger creates greater opportunities for profitable growth than either company could achieve on its own," Media General chairman J. Stewart Bryan said in a statement.
The new company called Meredith Media General will have stations in 54 markets that reach 30 percent of US TV households. Some stations will be swapped to address regulatory concerns, the statement said.
The combination puts Media General back into the publishing business following the spinoff of its newspaper group to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate.
The publishing and digital operations reach some 200 million Americans.
The companies said they expect to save some $80 million in operating costs within the first two years.
Media General shareholders will own 65 percent of the new group to 35 percent for Meredith shareholders.