Local television station WECT is now under new ownership as part of Gray Television's $3.6 billion acquisition of Raycom Media Inc.
The closing of the sale took effect Wednesday, said Kevin Latek, Gray Television Inc. executive vice president and chief legal and development officer.
Gray Television and Raycom Media announced a deal in late June, according to a news release.
“I think it's safe to say that everybody within Gray is incredibly excited about our future, and we have been chomping at the bit to get to this day,” Latek said Thursday. “Everyone has been dying to get this deal closed and get to work.”
WECT is now one of three North Carolina TV stations owned by Gray Television. The Atlanta-based company also took ownership of WBTV in Charlotte. It previously owned WITN, which serves the Greenville, New Bern, Jacksonville and Washington areas, prior to the acquisition.
Gray Television, with the sale, now has stations in 91 of the 210 markets in the country. Those markets represent 24 percent of TV households in the United States, Latek said.
The markets span from Alaska and Hawaii to Maine and Florida, according to the release.
Mark Mendenhall, WECT’s vice president and general manager, said that the impact of the acquisition will not be seen by local viewers.
“There’s really not much expected as far as impact at the local level. This station has been through a few ownership changes but nothing since the '90s. We still expect to deliver the same quality news and programming,” Mendenhall said.
Ownership of the WECT building, located at 322 Shipyard Blvd., transferred from Raycom Media to Gray Television, he said.
The TV station, which operated for a straight 87-hour period of broadcast news during Hurricane Florence in September, is in the process of internal reconstruction, and repair work to the building's roof will begin next week.
Most of the changes that are taking place are at the corporate level, he added.
With the closing, Hilton Howell became Gray's executive chairman and CEO, and Pat LaPlatney, Raycom’s previous president and CEO, has become Gray’s president and co-CEO, stated the release.