Sinclair to buy Allbritton's stations for $985M

Growing TV giant will sell but retain control of four of its own stations to comply with FCC ownership rules as part of the deal

Those who were wondering who would come away with Allbritton Communications' stable of TV stations can wonder no longer:  It's Sinclair.

Sinclair Broadcast Group announced Monday morning that it has reached a deal to buy the seven Allbritton-owned ABC affiliates in Washington, D.C. (WJLA); Birmingham, Ala. (WBMA-LP/WCFT/WJSU); Harrisburg, Pa. (WHTM); Little Rock, Ark. (KATV); Tulsa, Okla. (KTUL); Roanoke, Va. (WSET); and Charleston, S.C. (WCIV).

Also included in the deal is NewsChannel 8, Allbritton's 24-hour cable news network serving the D.C. area.

“We are thrilled to add the Allbritton properties to our growing portfolio and national footprint,” said David Smith, president-CEO of Sinclair. “To buy a full-blown news operation in our nation’s capital and an infrastructure that allows us to be connected to our branches of government and be at the pulse of national issues is a once-in-a lifetime event. We are especially excited to acquire the NewsChannel 8 local news channel, not only for the content it can provide our existing news stations, but moreover because their regional cable presence provides the perfect platform should we decide to expand it into other markets, especially given the amount of local news we produce across our entire portfolio.”

In accordance with FCC ownership rules, Sinclair must spin off certain of its stations. The company will sell but through shared services agreements (SSAs) provide services to MyNetwork TV affiliate WABM and CW affiliate WTTO (Birmingham), CBS affiliate WHP (Harrisburg, Pa.), and MyNetwork TV affiliate WMMP (Charleston).

Completion of the deal is subject to FCC and antitrust approvals; Sinclair expects that the transaction will close in the fourth quarter of this year.


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