“There is no basis” for the story in The Street that says that Fox and Ion are forming a joint venture to own and operate their combined stations, the Wells Fargo analysts says in a note to clients. “This is a complete overreaction based on no underlying research, data or factual information, in our view.”
Reacting to a story in The Street that says that Fox is considering merging its station group with that of Ion Media, Wells Fargo securities analyst Marci Ryvicker said “there is no basis” to the report that has depressed Sinclair stock.
“This is a complete overreaction based on no underlying research, data or factual information, in our view,” she wrote Monday.
Ryvicker noted that there is no evidence that Ion has informed MVPDs that it wants to negotiate for retransmission consent fees rather than simply demand must carry. Such a move would signal an intention to covert some of its stations to Fox affiliates.
According to the report in The Street, Ion and Fox would form a joint venture that would own and operate the stations of both groups. Many of the 60 Ion stations would become Fox outlets, leaving many current Fox affiliates out in the cold.
The story framed the Ion-Fox venture as a reaction of Sinclair’s pending merger with Tribune Media. That merger would give Sinclair control of Fox affiliates covering nearly 30% of the country — a level that would allow Sinclair to push back hard on Fox’s reverse comp demands and, perhaps, to have a say in Fox programming decisions.
Undermining the Fox-Ion talk was an agreement in August by which Fox renewed its affiliations with Sinclair in five small markets.
At that time, Ryvicker wrote: “If Fox were changing its business model or really contemplating taking its affiliations away from [Sinclair], we don’t think either party would have signed this deal, regardless as to its size.”