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Gray Television spins off newspaper publishing company

ATLANTA - Triple Crown Media is officially in the newspaper business.

The new public company was launched Friday when Gray Television Inc.'s board of directors approved a spinoff of its newspaper publishing and wireless business.

The deal enables Triple Crown to become new owner of the Gwinnett Daily Post, the state's third largest daily. Four other daily newspapers will also operate under the Triple Crown banner: The Rockdale Citizen, Newton Citizen and The Albany Herald in Georgia, and The Goshen (Ind.) News.

Triple Crown's papers will have a daily circulation of about 120,000 and Sunday circulation of nearly 160,000.

Tom Stultz, former publisher of the Post and CEO of Triple Crown, said the spinoff provides the newly formed company with "enormous benefits."

"It's a unique opportunity because the five newspapers were under the umbrella of a growing TV company and never really able to be the focus," Stultz said.

That's no longer the case, as newspapers will make up two-thirds of Triple Crown's cash flow.

"This gives the newspaper and publishing side a chance to grow and shine on its own," said Triple Crown Chief Financial Officer Fred Erickson. "Having Tom Stultz at the helm of this company is going to allow us to maximize his talents and look for opportunities to expand."

The deal enables Atlanta-based Gray to focus operations on its core business: building television market share. Gray owns 31 television stations that serve 27 markets. The combined station group reaches about 5.5 percent of total U.S. households.

Gray is also spinning off its Graylink wireless business, which will become part of Triple Crown Media. Bull Run Corp., the majority Gray stockholder and owner of Host Communications, a collegiate marketing business, will be merged into Triple Crown Media as part of the

transaction.

The move to Triple Crown should be transparent to the Post's newspaper customers, Publisher J.K. Murphy said.

"We're not planning any changes to the way we do business. Our goal is to continue to serve as Gwinnett's community newspaper. We will remain the best source for local news and the most effective venue for our advertisers," Murphy said.

"If anything, a closer partnership with Host Communications will allow us to strengthen the Post's presence on the Internet."

Triple Crown Media's common shares will trade on the NASDAQ National Market under the symbol "TCMI." Gray shareholders will receive Triple Crown Media stock as part of the spinoff.

Triple Crown will also pay $40 million to Gray, which intends to use the money to pay off debt.