Sinclair Poised To Buy Fisher Stations

Sources say Sinclair has beaten out LIN for Fisher’s 13 full-power and seven LPTV stations.

One of the hot rumors at NAB this week: A deal for Fisher Communications to be acquired was imminent.

Turns out the rumors were true. Sinclair Broadcasting won a bidding war against LIN Media to buy Fisher in a deal finalized in the wee hours of Tuesday night, according to sources.

Details, specifically price and cash flow multiples, were unavailable late Wednesday. Employees at various Fisher stations knew that various potential buyers had been conducting due diligence at the larger stations but were unaware that Sinclair had won.

A spokesman at Fisher’s public relations firm, Sard Verbinnen & Co., said the company had no comment on rumors and speculation.

With other recent acquisitions, the Fisher buy would boost Sinclair’s station group to nearly 150 and give it a strong presence in the West. Fisher operates 13 full-power and seven low-power stations primarily in the Pacific Northwest. Its flagship station is KOMO, the ABC affiliate in Seattle.

Sinclair also is considered a front-runner to buy Local TV LLC’s group of 21 stations and, potentially, several other station groups.


Comments (12)

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E B says:

April 10, 2013 at 11:16 pm

An outstanding broadcast chain falls into schlock.

Kevin Wright says:

April 11, 2013 at 12:24 am

As one of the Dukes said in “Trading Places,” Heaven Help Us!

Teri Keene says:

April 11, 2013 at 12:32 am

How long would it be before they buy a station in a top 10 market?

    Matt Lawson says:

    April 11, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Seattle, WA and Portland, OR are more lucrative and important than many top 10 markets

Roger Lyons says:

April 11, 2013 at 7:48 am

As they say, the bigger they are, the harder they…

Paul Hoagland says:

April 11, 2013 at 8:14 am

I’m sure I will be considered close to extinction for this but doesn’t SBG, at some point need to demonstrate that they can actually run all the stations they have purchased in the past 12 months effectively. Maybe create some value with the asset as a business beyond merely buying something and creating fees for the M&A bankers and lawyers. Anyone can buy and continue to buy as long as Wall St continues to fund and why wouldn’t they since the retransmission revenues are facilitating these purchases thru Sinclair’s ability to immediately take any purchased station to their previously negotiated rates with the major MPVD’s. Maybe the DOJ should look a little closer at this. But this isn’t building or even allowing for a “local business” which is (imo) what trelevision stations ought to be. Chesapeake is headed by someone who’s track record is a little light on actually operating a television station in the classic sense, however ‘olde fashioned’ a concept that may be(see CCA). Again,despite not having all the information of an insider it would seem to me that most of those CCA stations, while pulled out of bankruptcy, are pretty weak and their new owner will need to inject significant resources to make them real, viable television properties capable of producing something worthwhile beyond retrans $. This isn’t exactly like a Raycom or Cox buying a station and actually improving it. I’m not taking a potshot at the SBG people as operators but haven’t we seen this story before in the radio business and that hasn’t seemed to turn out to well, though I’m certain the bankers and brokers will vehemently disagree with me.

Shenee Howard says:

April 11, 2013 at 9:20 am

It should be illegal for SBG to own so many stations across the country and in individual markets. This is not in the public interest. Most stations are value managed (the Sinclair ABC station here has no news, no local presence other than a sales person, and is operated remotely) and in many cases are used to promote the politics of the owners, in an unbalanced manner. It is time for the FCC and Congress to just say no.

    John Murray says:

    April 11, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Not to defend the way Sinclair runs its news operations, but they could buy 100 MORE stations and the local TV station industry would still be far less heavily consolidated than ANY other business on the PLANET that has any modicum of a barrier to entry. Cable and DBS distribution, cable program networks, telecom, ad agencies/media-buying firms and for that matter even social media are now each dominated by a handful of companies. Local broadcast TV remains the most diversely owned, broadly dispersed, dis-aggregated business you’ll find. And as for the “public interest,” how about letting the PUBLIC decide? They’re very effective at doing so: It’s called “changing the channel.” And in every single market where SBG operates they have numerous other places to go. And when people run to the FCC to complain about a “bad” broadcaster it results in more penalties and misery for the “good” broadcasters — namely, the vast majority of the business. You should read the articles and columns on this site a bit more closely, “FreeRights” — you may learn a bit about the business.

Mark Annas says:

April 11, 2013 at 9:57 am

The public and groups truly interested in local broadcast need to push the FCC to rule that JSAs, LMAs and “sham” companies that are set up and run by exisitng broadcast companies to circumvent the existing rules count toward attribution….otherwise very soon there will be one voice speaking across all markets.

Jay Miller says:

April 11, 2013 at 10:36 am

What we are witnessing is the destruction of Local TV News as we speak!!!

joanne gauvin says:

April 11, 2013 at 10:52 am

At least it’s not Nexstar buying all these stations…

Mark Annas says:

April 11, 2013 at 10:54 am

We are now seeing a total lack of fresponsibility in broadcasting:
According to a March 12 regulatory filing, Sinclair Broadcast Group had $2.27 billion in debt (as of Dec. 31) and is seeking nearly $1 billion in loans to refinance existing debt and support the recent acquisitions of Barrington Broadcasting Group and certain Cox Media Group stations.
According to Bloomberg, the company is also selling $600 million of bonds to pay down existing debt.
In the past two years, Sinclair has spent roughly $1.5 billion… buying Freedom on credit for $385 million, Four Points for $200 million, Newport for $467 million, and, most recently, Barrington for $370 million and four Cox stations for $99 million. It has also been reported that Sinclair is trying to buy Titan Television Broadcast Group and its 12 mid-to-small-market stations. Translation: Sinclair continues to buy television stations with money it doesn’t have. How much cash will Sinclair have to operate and improve these stations they are gobbling up? How does this help preserve the voice of local braodcast??????? It doesn’t.

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