Gray Television, Inc. is an American publicly traded television broadcasting company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1946 by James Harrison Gray as Gray Communications Systems, the company owns or operates 145 stations across the United States, based primarily in markets as large as Cleveland and as small as North Platte, Nebraska.
James H. Gray started his communication business with the purchase of The Albany Herald in 1946 after he returned from World War II. Gray launched WALB-TV in 1954. In 1960, Gray purchased WJHG-TV in Panama City, FL, and followed it later in the decade with KTVE serving Monroe, LA and southern Arkansas.
In 1986 Gray died, leaving his 50.5% share of the stock in a trust for his children with stipulation that they run the business together, sell their stock with each other or sell out together. This caused difficulties as two of the three wanted to sell with the third unable to purchase. In 1991, to break the stalemate, the board of directors had the company purchase 25% of their shares.
Gray Communication Systems
The company was then taken public on NASDAQ’s small-cap market in the 2nd quarter 1992. The price per share dropped to $8. The company put itself-or any part up-for sale by the end of 1992. While the board of directors received about 40 offers, Bull Run Corporation purchased the remaining shares of the Gray siblings, who as part of the deal resigned from the board.
In 2006, the company spun off its five daily newspapers and wireless messaging business into the newly formed Triple Crown Media, later (in 2010) is renamed Southern Community Newspapers. A new strategy of purchasing stations in college towns or capitals was put into place.
The company had overpaid for a pair of stations and was over leveraged like many other station groups entering the Great Recession. Advertising revenues dropped. The twin problems caused its shares to trade at its lowest at 16 cents in 2008, thus the NYSE indicated they might delist the company. Loan covenants could have forced the company into default. Robinson stepped down with Howell replacing him in 2008.