To Appease FCC, Sinclair To Sell 3 Stations

Sinclair has proposed dropping the use of sidecars as part of its effort to push its acquisition of Allbritton through the FCC. Sinclair says it will sell three stations that it now owns -- WHP Harrisburg-Lancaster, Pa.; WMMP Charleston, S.C.; and WABM Birmingham, Ala.-- to independent third parties. The company assured the FCC it would not enter any operational or financial agreements with any of the buyers.

To salvage its acquisition of Allbritton Communications, Sinclair has proposed to sell three stations that it had hoped to operate as sidecars under joint sales and sharing agreements to bring the deal into line with the FCC’s proposal to curtail use of such agreements.

Sinclair said it is concerned that the expected adoption of the FCC proposal next week may result in its being unable to close the Allbritton deal as it is currently structured before the deadline of July 27, 2014.

In a letter to the FCC, Sinclair said it will sell three stations that it now owns — WHP Harrisburg-Lancaster, Pa. (CBS);  WMMP Charleston, S.C. (MNT); and WABM Birmingham, Ala. (MNT) — to independent third parties.

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Sinclair assured the FCC that it would not enter into any operational or financial agreements with any of the buyers.

In its original deal, Sinclair had proposed spinning the stations off to two related companies — Deerfield and Howard Stirk Holdings  — to continue to keep a hand in their operation through sales and sharing agreements.

In addition, Sinclair told the FCC, it would also stop providing services to WTAT, the Fox affiliate in Charleston, and would transfer to the buyer of WHP, the rights under an existing LMA to provide services to WLYH, the CW affiliate in Harrisburg.

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Sinclair agreed last summer to buy Allbritton for $985 million. Allbritton includes WJLA Washington and the ABC affiliates in six other markets, Harrisburg, Charleston and Birmingham. Sinclair intends to hang on to all seven of the stations.

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Comments (7)

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Joanne McDonald says:

March 21, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Sinclair would be better off selling WTAT and WABM to Raycom and WHP to Nexstar to be able to consolidate with WLYH in a trading and swapping deal with WHP from Harrisburg, KBTV and KFDM from Beaumont, KEYE from Austin, and WOAI from San Antonio going to Nexstar while WFXR and WWCW from Roanoke going to Sinclair.

    Cameron Miller says:

    March 23, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Beat it James Cieloha, you have no idea how buying/selling a TV station works!

Mike Henry says:

March 21, 2014 at 4:25 pm

One aspect that is absent here is a proposed license and asset swap between WHTM and the prospective undetermined buyer of WHP that is included in the amendment. WHTM would assume WHP’s transmitter facilities and license, WHP would get WHTM’s transmitter and license. Each station would swap programming (including their ABC and CBS affiliations) if the buyer agrees to the deal. It will be similar in structure to the KFVE-KGMB deal in 2009, though virtual channels would also be swapped in addition to call letters.

    Trudy Handel says:

    March 24, 2014 at 7:30 am

    I can’t seem to find any verification of that. Is there a source for this?

Linda Leavell says:

March 21, 2014 at 5:53 pm

WJLA almost close to Disney and Make ABC O&O. I Very Disapointed

    Joanne McDonald says:

    March 21, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    If Hearst were to acquire the Allbritton stations, Hearst would give WJLA to ABC/Disney for WTVD to Hearst and give WHTM to Scripps for KMGH to Hearst and buy WABM from Sinclair and use it to air WBMA programming on WABM DT2 digital subchannel.

    Cameron Miller says:

    March 23, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Beat it James Cieloha, you have no idea how buying/selling a TV station works!


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