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Emmis Communications

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agreed to sell nine of its 16 television stations in three separate transactions for $681 million.

Lin TV


agreed to buy five stations for $260 million. Two stations are in Mobile, Ala./Pensacola, Fla., and there's one each in Terre Haute, Ind.; Green Bay, Wis.; and Albuquerque, N.M.

Journal Communications


agreed to buy stations in Fort Myers, Fla., Omaha, Neb., and Tucson, Ariz., for a total of $235 million.

Gray Television

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agreed to buy WSAZ-TV, an NBC affiliate in Charleston, W. Va., for $186 million.

"We announced in early May that we were exploring strategic alternatives for our Television Group, so that we could focus on lowering debt and positioning ourselves for growth," Emmis Chairman Jeff Smulyan said in a statement. He said the Indianapolis-based company continues to move forward on discussions relating to the remaining seven stations.

Emmis had set an Aug. 15 deadline to consider bids. In July, Smulyan told

that a

number of serious bids had been made for the entire group. Smulyan emphasized at the time that Emmis expected to garner "significantly more" than the $1 billion or so in proceeds that Wall Street was projecting.

The stations represented in Monday's announced transactions represented 53% of TV station operating income in fiscal year ended Feb. 28. Emmis is expected to use proceeds to invest in its radio business.

Where the remaining properties in the station group are concerned, WKCF-TV in Orlando, Fla., could sell at a significant premium, according to sources who say the station is garnering a lot of private equity interest. Investors are looking ahead to a 2008 election year, which could yield significant political TV ad dollars in a key battleground state. Of the other six stations, two are in Honolulu and one is in each of New Orleans, Portland, Ore., and Topeka and Wichita, Kan.

Emmis shares were trading up nearly 8% to $23.29 Monday.