John Blair Will Sell Three TV Stations for $86 Million

Times Staff Writer

Television stations KBSY Channel 6 in San Luis Obispo, KBSW Channel 8 in Salinas and KOKH Channel 25 in Oklahoma City will be sold by John Blair & Co. to privately held Gillett Holdings for $86 million, the companies said Tuesday.

KBSY, an NBC affiliate, serves the Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo areas. KBSW, also an NBC affiliate, has a coverage area that extends to the southern end of the San Francisco Bay. KOKH is a not affiliated with a network.

While details of the stations' finances were not disclosed, analysts and station brokers speculated that the price was a generous one.

Blair, a diversified New York media company, is in the process of being acquired by financier Saul P. Steinberg's Reliance Group Holdings. Officials said Reliance and Blair plan to focus their efforts in television broadcasting on the Spanish-language market, in which Reliance is building the second nationwide Spanish-language network.

Blair owns Spanish stations in Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico, while Reliance owns KVEA Channel 52 in Los Angeles and this month said it will pay $70 million for a station in Linden, N.J., that can be seen through much of the New York City area.

Sale of the three stations will help pay off some debt incurred by Blair's acquisition, said Henry R. Silverman, chairman of the diversified New York media company. "You've got to sell some things to pay down debt, and stations are something that can be sold off easily," he said.

Blair bought the California stations along with cable television properties in 1979 from John Cohan, a longtime broadcast executive. Blair declined to estimate the value of the stations at that time.

Blair is also taking bids for eight radio stations it owns in Boston, Dallas, Indianapolis and Tampa, Fla., Silverman said. Blair produces and syndicates television programming and is the nation's largest broker of broadcast advertising time.

Gillett Holdings is owned by George Gillett Jr., a Nashville businessman who also owns the Packer Land meatpacking company in Green Bay, Wis., and Vail Associates, developer of the Vail ski resort in Colorado. Gillett could not be reached for comment.

Reliance's $356-million acquisition of Blair was approved by the Federal Communications Commission in September.

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