Sinclair Buying Bonten Stations For $240M

The deal will add Bonten Media Group’s 14 stations in eight markets that reach approximately 1% of the U.S. TV households. Sinclair's total coverage now stands at 39.6%.

Sinclair Broadcast Group today announced the acquisition of 14 stations in eight markets from Bonten Media for $240 million.

The deal takes advantage of the FCC decision yesterday to restore the UHF discount in calculating station group coverage for purposes of the FCC’s national ownership cap on station group coverage — 39% of TV households.

The Bonten stations add about 1% to Sinclair’s total reach, Sinclair said.

Without the discount, the deal would put Sinclair above the cap at 39.6%. But with the cap, it remains well below the cap at around 25%.

Veteran broadcaster Randy Bongarten, backed by the Diamond Castle private equity firm, formed Bonten Media in 2007 by purchasing Bluestone Television for $230 million.The old Bluestone station still form the backbone of the group.

Through duopoly partner Esteem Broadcasting, Bonten added Fox affiliates in Greenville, N.C., and Chico-Redding, Calif. Esteem owns the stations, but Bonten operates them through joint sales and shared services agreements.

BRAND CONNECTIONS

Not included in the deal is WFXI, one of Esteem’s two Fox affiliates in Greenville. WFXI was sold in the FCC incentive auction for $42.1 million.

The Bonten stations:

Station

Affil.

Market

DMA

WCYB

NBC

Tri-Cities, TN-VA

98

WEMT

FOX

Tri-Cities, TN-VA

98

WCTI

ABC

Greenville-New Bern-Washington, NC

100

WYDO

FOX

Greenville-New Bern-Washington, NC

100

KCVU

FOX

Chico-Redding, CA

132

KRCR

ABC

Chico-Redding, CA

132

KRVU-LD

MNT

Chico-Redding, CA

132

KUCO-LP

UNI

Chico-Redding, CA

132

KECI

NBC

Missoula, MT

164

KCFW

NBC

Missoula, MT (simulcasts KECI)

164

KTXS

ABC

Abilene-Sweetwater, TX

165

KTES-LD

METV

Abilene-Sweetwater, TX

165

KTVM

NBC

Butte-Bozeman, MT

185

KAEF

ABC

Eureka, CA

195

KBVU

FOX

Eureka, CA

195

KECA-LD

CW

Eureka, CA

195

KEUV-LP

UNI

Eureka, CA

195

KTXE-LD

ABC

San Angelo, TX

196

“We look forward to welcoming the Bonten employees into the Sinclair family and are pleased to be growing our regional presence in several states where we already operate,” said Chris Ripley, president-CEO of Sinclair. “We believe our economies of scale help us bring improvements to small market stations, including investments in news, other quality local programming, and multicast opportunities with our emerging networks of Comet, Charge! and TBD.”    

Including the Bonten station acquisitions, all previously announced acquisitions and pro forma for expected synergies, Sinclair’s 2015 and 2016 media revenues would have been $2.236 billion and $2.620 billion, respectively, the company said. “The $240 million purchase price represents a 6.7x multiple and is expected to be on average approximately $25 million accretive to our free cash flow on an annualized basis.”

In a note to her clients, Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker says the deal amounts to a “drop in the bucket” for Sinclair. “It by no means precludes other deals from happening – large or small – as [Sinclair] clearly still has plenty of cap and financial room.

“And if 2017 looks anything like 2011 (which is when [Sinclair] ”opened” the M&A market for the broadcast space), 2012 and 2013, it won’t matter what the specific deals are as [free cash flow] will continue to go up meaningfully, as will the stock price (in our view).”


Comments (19)

Leave a Reply

Shenee Howard says:

April 21, 2017 at 9:56 am

My condolences to people at those stations and viewers in that community. And this is just the start. The reinstatement of the UHF discount is designed to further enrich the Smith family and their puppet Pai. No doubt about it.

    Angie McClimon says:

    April 21, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    Sinclair is a crappy organization. I worked at one of their stations at one time. I couldn’t start for a week because my paperwork took forever going through their corporate offices. They micromanage everything. So much so you wonder why they even have GMs at the station level.

Dan Levitt says:

April 21, 2017 at 9:59 am

Knock yourselves out Sinclair, anybody investing in TV Stations today has no foresight. Buying TV Stations today is like buying Newspapers 10 years ago.

Cheryl Thorne says:

April 21, 2017 at 10:22 am

Mr Fixit..You are so correct. They have turned the local station business into just another commodity play and when the networks put their programming on their cable stations in a few years(except of their o and o’s that will be the end of local broadcast..Do not think its not going to happen either..The sad part for local tv is that the government is involved and that has killed it..Pinheads!!!!

Teri Green says:

April 21, 2017 at 11:25 am

They should lose the UHF discount and reinstate it for VHF instead, probably wouldn’t be able to that. I reckon it’s harder to make a new rule than restore an old one

Brad Dann says:

April 21, 2017 at 11:26 am

Bitter. Incompetent. Trolls

Debra Rein says:

April 21, 2017 at 11:29 am

You guys are sad. Go do something with your lives besides complain about what broadcasters are doing. I don’t understand your infatuation. Were you fired from the business? Could you not make it in the industry so you hold a grudge? This baseless crusade you guys lead is sad.

    Brad Dann says:

    April 21, 2017 at 11:58 am

    Amen!

    alicia farmer says:

    April 21, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Perhaps some of us are deeply saddened by the abysmal state of the local TV station business.

    Debra Rein says:

    April 21, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    I’m sure when you were a GM it was much better because, well, it was you running the show. Now that you are out of the loop it doesn’t look good huh? Funny how memory only remembers what makes us feel good inside. Back when you were a GM you were the only game in town. No competition, nothing to compare yourself too, It was easy back then wasn’t it.

    alicia farmer says:

    April 21, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    Does that make you feel better? I worked in four top ten markets with excellent competition.

    John Bagwell says:

    April 21, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Times have changed since you were a GM. You are going to have to get over it.

    John Bagwell says:

    April 21, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    And does it make you feel better to post 3-4 negative comments on here per day?

    Patrick Schooley says:

    April 21, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    “competition” you know like the ones the ISP’s have.

Don Richards says:

April 21, 2017 at 12:30 pm

The world continues to evolve. You can’t wish that away. We’re not still using horses and buggies to get around. Air mail is gone. 45 RPM records are fond memories. Bemoaning the fact that the 7-7-7 rule is gone and that aggressive companies have developed a new model for broadcasting, is not going to return us to the days of three-stations-per-market. It’s a different world that requires different thinking, different structures, and an eye toward the future. There are a lot of exciting opportunities that are available and will continue to evolve. It’s great to be part of the evolution, even if the form is different from what it was 40 years ago!

    Brad Dann says:

    April 21, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    Amen! Can I get a witness!!!!!! Glad to see there are others on here who get tired of the bitching about anything changing.

Andrea Rader says:

April 21, 2017 at 4:25 pm

Bonten is a bottom-of-the-barrel operator, so if anything Sinclair should be an upgrade, their wretched diginets notwithstanding.

    Brad Dann says:

    April 22, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Exactly stations bought for 230M and sold for 240M after adding management agreements of other stations and over 10 year period. Investors made lousy return on this deal.


More News