Dothan’s Fox television affiliate WDFX has been sold to Lockwood Broadcast Group as part of Gray Television’s acquisition of Raycom Media.
Last summer, the companies announced the pending merger in which Gray would acquire Raycom for $3.6 billion in cash and stock. The merger attempt caused an overlap of stations in nine different markets, including Dothan, where Gray owns WTVY-TV.
In December, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an official complaint against the proposed merger, saying the merger eliminated major competitors in those nine markets. The government argued the merger could give Gray the ability to charge higher advertising prices for businesses and larger fees for programming distributors, potentially affecting how much subscribers pay for cable and satellite services.
Likely anticipating the federal complaint, Gray announced it had reached deals to sell stations in the nine overlap markets in August, according to the PR News Wire website. On the same date the federal complaint was filed, officials also posted a proposed settlement that noted Raycom and Gray did not object to the “divestiture,” or sale, of 10 properties to appease anti-trust laws.
In early January, Gray announced it had completed the merger with Raycom. Greensboro TV, another name by which Lockwood operates, owns the Federal Communications Commission license for WDFX.
As part of the Department of Justice’s final judgment document, Lockwood retained an option with Gray for Gray to provide “substantially the same local news programming” for WDFX for one year. WDFX has had a partnership with fellow Raycom station WSFA in Montgomery to share news content for several years, and the WDFX website notes that arrangement continues.
Other nearby properties sold as part of the divestitures include Fox affiliate WPGX in Panama City, Florida, CBS affiliate WSWG in Albany, Georgia, and ABC affiliate WTXL in Tallahassee, Florida.
A 60-day public comment window on the proposed final judgment of the federal complaint began Wednesday. People wishing to comment can write to Owen Kendler, Chief of Media, Entertainment and Professional Services of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division at 450 Fifth Street NW, Suite 4000, Washington, DC 20530.
Raycom Media began with the help of an investment from the Retirement Systems of Alabama, and the Raycom offices were located in the RSA Tower in Montgomery at the time of the merger.