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WNDU officially acquired

Maddie Hanna | Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Gray Television, Inc. officially acquired WNDU-TV from the University Monday for $85 million – a purchase that will help inflate Notre Dame’s endowment, a University official said.

Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves said in a statement Monday the $85 million from the sale of Michiana Telecasting Corp. – the operator of WNDU, an on-campus NBC-affiliate station – will be invested primarily in the University’s endowment and used for “student and academic initiatives.”

Affleck-Graves also said student internships would be unaffected by the ownership change.

The sale has been in the works since April 2005. At that time, the University hired Kalil and Co., a brokerage firm based in Tucson, Ariz., to explore options for selling Michiana Telecasting Corp.

An outside brokerage firm was necessary given the University’s “limited knowledge of the broadcasting industry,” Affleck-Graves told The Observer last April.

“In recent months we have received a number of inquiries from parties interested in acquiring Michiana Telecasting Corporation,” he said in April. “The University feels it has a responsibility to evaluate such inquiries in a fiscally prudent manner.”

In August 2005, University President Father John Jenkins said multiple firms had bid for WNDU.

He expressed confidence in the future of the station and said both WNDU and the University would benefit from the sale of the station.

“I think we’d be better served if we do our best at running the University, and I think a company is going to buy WNDU that knows this business and it’s going to flourish,” Jenkins told The Observer in August.

And like Affleck-Graves, Jenkins said Notre Dame students working and interning for WNDU would not be adversely affected by a sale.

“Any educational benefit we got from it we can still get from it, even if we don’t own it … so it’s not an impediment to the education of our students,” Jenkins said in August.

The University announced in November that Atlanta-based Gray Television, Inc. would be purchasing WNDU for $85 million.

“We are absolutely delighted to have found that match and are confident that Gray Television will carry on the tradition of excellence found at WNDU for the past half-century,” Affleck-Graves said in a statement after the deal was made Nov. 23.

Gray owns 35 stations – now including WNDU – serving 30 markets. Of those 25 stations, 24 are ranked No. 1 in local news audience, and 24 are ranked No. 1 in overall audience within their respective markets.

Gray’s stations reach approximately six percent of U.S. households with television.

WNDU serves the South Bend-Elkhart Designated Market Area, ranked 87th largest in the nation. Until Monday, the University owned the station since 1955.