The purchase of the Harrisburg, Pa., ABC affiliiate from Sinclair is part of Sinclair’s promise to the FCC to smooth the way for approval of Sinclair’s purchase of all of Allbritton’s stations.
Media General is buying WHTM, the ABC affiliate in Harrisburg, Pa. (DMA 43), that the Sinclair Broadcast Group is spinning off from its $985 million acquisition of Allbritton Communications, it was announced by the parties this today.
The price is $83.4 million, according to Media General.
Nearly a year ago, Sinclair agreed to buy Allbritton’s string of ABC affiliates in seven markets, including Washington. But the deal has gotten hung up the agency because of the FCC’s tough new rules banning the use of joint sales agreements and other contractual arrangements to circumvent local station ownership limits.
To clear the way for the Allbritton deal, Sinclair said it would turn in the licenses it was acquiring in Charleston, S.C., and Birmingham, Ala., and sell WHTM. Sinclair is giving up the licenses in two markets, but not the ABC affiliations. The ABC programming will share channels with other Sinclair stations in the two markets.
“WHTM TV is a marquee station in an attractive, capital-city market,” said George Mahoney, CEO of Media General. “It fits perfectly with our company.”
In a related development, Sinclair said that has agreed to sell the “non-license assets” of WTAT Charleston (Fox) to Cunningham Broadcasting. In doing so, it was following through with a promise it made the FCC in a May 29 letter to put distance between it and Cunningham. It said it would terminate its local marketing agreement with Cunningham. “There would be no sharing arrangement or contingent financial interests between Sinclair and Cunningham.”
Since Media General is buying the station from Sinclair, the FCC must first approve Sinclair’s purchase of the station from Allbritton.