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New Media acquiring Morris Publishing assets; Netflix buys comic book publisher

S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a wrap-up of U.S. companies' media and communications deal announcements and completions from Aug. 7 to Aug. 11.

* Ticketmaster-owned TicketWeb acquired marketing platform Strobe Labs. TicketWeb plans to integrate Strobe technology directly to provide a single dashboard and then to extend the tools across Ticketmaster for all clients. From the dashboard, venue customers will be able to search and view customer profiles, build and deploy fan lists for direct marketing and email campaigns, and create and post targeted, end-to-end social display campaigns on various social media platforms. Live Nation Entertainment Inc. owns Ticketmaster.

* Cox Communications Inc. closed the acquisition of Blueprint RF, a managed network solutions provider serving major hotel brands and hotel properties across the U.S. The acquisition is expected to help Cox Business' ability to provide a range of managed products and services for hotel owners and their guests, the company said Aug. 9. The acquisition also complements Cox's presence in the hospitality segment through its Hospitality Network. Blueprint RF co-founder and CEO Ron Peterson and his team will join Cox and will operate as part of Cox Business' New Business Ventures.

* New Media Investment Group Inc. struck a deal to buy newspapers and related assets from Morris Publishing Group LLC for $120 million. The deal includes many of the Morris portfolio of U.S.-based newspaper assets located across Georgia, Florida, Texas, Kansas, Arkansas and Alaska, the company said Aug. 9. New Media is buying 79 publications, including all 11 dailies and Morris' Main Street Digital group, substantially all weekly and niche print products and all related websites and digital operations. New Media is funding the transaction with cash on the balance sheet and expects it to be highly accretive to free cash flow with net synergies of $10 million to $15 million. The deal is expected to close early in the fourth quarter. William Morris III, chairman of Morris Publishing, will continue to serve as publisher of The Augusta Chronicle and will oversee editorial-page policy for the three Morris newspapers in Georgia.

* Gray Television Inc. on Aug. 1 closed the acquisition of CBS (US)-affiliate WCAX-TV in the Burlington, Vt.-Plattsburgh, N.Y., market for $29.0 million. On May 1, Gray closed the acquisition of television stations WABI-TV (CBS/ The CW (US)) in the Bangor, Maine, market and WCJB-TV (ABC (US)/The CW) in the Gainesville, Fla., market for $85.0 million. Gray on Aug. 8 noted it has completed 23 acquisition transactions and three divestiture transactions from Oct. 31, 2013, through June 30, 2017.

* Lamar Advertising Co. purchased the assets of Steen Outdoor Advertising, the largest independent provider of outdoor advertising in the Philadelphia region, in an all-cash deal. The transaction expands Lamar's media footprint in the Northeast with the addition of more than 460 billboard faces, including 23 digital bulletin faces. Steen's assets are concentrated in Philadelphia and the nearby Pennsylvania suburbs, with coverage extending into Delaware and western New Jersey.

* Nexstar Media Group Inc.-owned Nexstar Broadcasting Inc. struck a deal to acquire the non-spectrum operating assets of WLWC-TV, The CW affiliate serving Providence, R.I., from OTA Broadcasting LLC for $4.1 million. Nexstar plans to fund the acquisition with cash from operations. The transaction will be accretive to Nexstar's operating results immediately upon closing, the company said Aug. 7. OTA Broadcasting sold the WLWC-TV spectrum in the Federal Communications Commission's recently completed incentive auction. Since the current deal relates to the acquisition of the station's remaining operating assets, the deal is not subject to FCC approval.

* Global entertainment company Tang Media Partners acquired independent film distributor and producer Open Road Films from AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. and Regal Entertainment Group as part of a larger, overall $500 million expansion plan. AMC and Regal will remain partners with Open Road through a long-term marketing partnership, the company said Aug. 7. At Tang Media Partners, Open Road will continue to be led by Open Road's Tom Ortenberg as CEO. Tang Media Partners is a next generation global studio dedicated to developing, financing, producing, and distributing premium content for film, television and digital initiatives.

* Netflix Inc. bought Millarworld, a comic book publishing company founded by Mark Millar, in its first-ever acquisition. As part of the deal, the streaming giant will work with Millar to use Millarworld's portfolio of character franchises for films, series and kids' shows that will be available exclusively to Netflix members globally.

* Tremor Video Inc. sold its buyer platform to Taptica International Ltd., a global mobile advertising technology platform, for $50 million. Under the terms of the agreement, Tremor Video agreed to certain hiring restrictions for two years and not to engage in competition for three years. Tremor also agreed to provide certain transition services through the end of the year. Tremor Video completed the sale on Aug. 7.