Three weeks after Media General (MG) unveiled plans to acquire Meredith Corporation in a $3.1 billion deal that would establish the combined entity as the nation’s third-largest owner of local broadcast TV stations, MG was courted Monday with an unsolicited cash, stock and debt offer from Nexstar Broadcasting which has the potential to create a national broadcasting powerhouse with 162 stations across 99 markets that would reach 39% of the U.S. population. Based in Irving, Texas, Nexstar boasts a portfolio of 100 TV stations in 58 markets covering 18% of U.S. television households. Excluding debt, Nexstar’s bid values MG at $1.85 billion, and the offer of $14.50 per MG share includes $10.50 per share in cash plus 0.0898 shares of Nexstar stock. With the assumption of MG debt, the value of Nexstar’s offer rises to $4.1 billion. 

Nexstar is touting the advantages of its “pure play” broadcast deal over MG’s planned acquisition of Meredith, which includes Better Homes and Gardens magazine and other print media assets. Writing to the MG board, Nexstar CEO Perry Sook characterized the proposed Meredith acquisition as “ill-conceived,” as he voiced his conviction that “a combination of [MG] and Nexstar is far more compelling strategically and financially.” Sook further asserted that the proposed transaction “would be a transformational event” that “would deliver superior, immediate and long-term value to [MG’s] shareholders compared with [MG’s] proposed acquisition of Meredith.” While stations involved in the proposed merger of Nexstar and MG would cover a higher percentage of the national market (39%) than the MG-Meredith deal (33%), Sook pointed out that Nexstar’s offer would provide MG with greater scale and less market overlap to further tip the scales in favor of regulatory approval. Executives of MG and Meredith offered no comment.