The group, founded and chaired by Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., says the FCC erred in rejecting its request that an FCC hearing be held to look into allegations that Sinclair’s use of sidecar companies flouted FCC station ownership limits.
The commission says that Sinclair satisfied concerns about the deal violating ownership rules by selling its Harrisburg station and giving up its licenses to stations in Birmingham and Charleston, shifting programming to other stations it already owns. Sinclair will end up with ABC affiliates in six additional market after the $958 million deal is done.
The Wall Street Journal reports Sinclair Broadcast Group has moved one step closer to closing its long-pending $985 million purchase of the Allbritton family’s television holdings on Tuesday, after agreeing to settle an antitrust lawsuit from the Justice Department. The settlement was reached in the wake of Sinclair’s agreement, announced last month, to sell one of the stations it is buying from Allbritton, ABC affiliate WHTM Harrisburg, Pa., to Media General for $83.4 million. WSJ subscribers can read the full story here.
The three stations — WCIV Charleston and WCFT-WJSU Birmingham — are now owned by Allbritton Communications, which Sinclair is buying, and were to be operated by sidecar companies. But those plans were dashed when the FCC earlier this year cracked down on the use of JSAs and SSAs. Today’s action, Sinclair said, is designed to win speedy approval of the Allbritton deal.
In a move that could be trouble for Sinclair’s previously announced purchase of Allbritton Communications, the Media Bureau says Sinclair’s plans to spin off stations in Charleston, Birmingham and Harrisburg to sidecar operators would violate commission rules.
As part of its proposed $985 million purchase, Sinclair has proposed spinning off its stations in two markets to comply with FCC local ownership rules while proposing to provide sales and other non-programming support services to them. Those side deals have drawn heavy flak in petitions to deny at the FCC, on grounds that the arrangements would give Sinclair too much power in those markets, including over retransmission consent negotiations with cable operators. Now, the Department of Justice is said to be investigating those same allegations.
The American Cable Association tells the FCC that the proposed purchase of seven stations will mean Sinclair will be able to negotiate retransmission consent deals for multiple stations in both Harrisburg, Pa., and Charleston, S.C.
While the addition of ABC affiliate WJLA Washington to Sinclair’s portfolio was the highest-profile part of its purchase of Allbritton Communications’ TV group, Sinclair CEO David Smith says what he was really after was the local Washington cable channel NewsChannel 8. He plans to combine it with the news resources of Sinclair’s 101 news-producing stations to create a national cable news network with “a unique, customized local presence in our markets and the markets of other broadcasters with which we may partner in the future.”
Newsroom employees at Washington’s ABC affiliate are concerned that job cuts might be in the station’s future now that it’s being purchased by Sinclair Broadcast Group from Allbritton Communications.
The deal includes Allbritton’s flagship WJLA, Washington’s ABC affiliate, and the NewsChannel 8 D.C. cable news network. To comply with FCC ownership rules, Sinclair will sell four of its current stations: WABM (MNT) and WTTO (CW) Birmingham, Ala.; WHP (CBS) Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, Pa.; and WMMP (MNT) Charleston, S.C. It says NewsChannel 8 “provides the perfect platform should we decide to expand it into other markets, especially given the amount of local news we produce across our entire portfolio.”
Most observers think the station group will sell its flagship WJLA Washington to one bidder (the odds-on favorite is Disney-ABC), with the other seven likely going to a buyer looking for duopoly opportunities. Bids for the group are due Monday.
As one industry observer puts it: “If you’re not looking to merge or acquire, you’re a bonehead dinosaur. Everybody should be on the block. If you bought assets to eventually sell, now is the time to sell.” Among the station groups in play are Local TV LLC/FoxCo’s 21 stations; Allbritton; Grant Communications; and Granite Broadcasting. Possible buyers include Sinclair, Nexstar, Fox, Raycom, LIN and ABC.
Broadcast networks filed suit on Thursday to halt a company from offering streams of their signals in the Washington, D.C. market, in the latest effort to challenge the legality of a bevy of services seeking to provide over-the-air TV on the Internet. Fox, NBC, ABC and Allbritton Communications filed a claim in U.S. District Court in Washington against Aereokiller, the provocatively named company founded by FilmOn’s Alki David.
The station group that went on block last week should attract top dollar because of its flagship, ABC affiliate WJLA Washington. It’s been a long time since a network affiliate in a top 10 market of that caliber has become available. Potential buyers include ABC and the usual suspects headed by Sinclair.
Joe L. Allbritton built a media dynasty in Washington by investing in the television business. His son, Robert, seems intent on reshaping his father’s legacy by getting out of it.The younger Allbritton said in a memo that the company will concentrate on new media, including Politico, its successful politics website and newspaper. “This is the Golden Age of new media innovation, and I intend to stay on the leading edge of it,” he wrote in a dispatch to company employees.
The sale of the seven-station group is one option the privately held company says it’s exploring.
Stripping out political revenues, local and national advertising dollars fell nearly 10% at Allbritton Communications in the last three months of 2012. But the company said in a government filing that was principally the result of political advertisers eating up the space.
The founder of Allbritton Communications, owner of eight ABC affiliates, Washington, D.C.’s local cable news channel and Politico, got his start in banking before turning his hand to the media business in 1974.
Three Washington news organizations, Politico, ABC affiliate WJLA and WTOP-FM, announced today a partnership to create a career website, PowerJobs.com, tailored to employers and employees in the influential industries that […]
It says the dispute over the MSO’s dropping WJLA Washington did not amount to “bad faith bargaining,” saying, “Even with good faith, impasse is possible.”
The past year has seen an increase in investigative reporting by stations in Washington. “You’re not going to distinguish yourself by covering that fire — unless you can follow up on why the fire hydrants didn’t work,” says WUSA News Director Fred D’Ambrosi.
American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka went public in support of Shenandoah Cable Television Co. (Shentel) in connection with a retransmission consent complaint filed last Thursday with […]
The Allbritton ABC affiliate in Washington says it had reached a retrans deal when the cable company replaced the station for an out-of-market affiliate.
In a message to the two cable providers’ subscribers, the Allbritton ABC affiliate in Washington says it may be necessary to pull the station if a deal can’t be reached by Jan. 1.
The fiscal year for Allbritton Communications ended on Sept. 31, so the results for the company are a bit different than the two-year political advertising cycle of its peers. Net operating revenues for fiscal 2011 were down 2.1% to $196,923.
Allbritton Communications has chosen media sales management provider Matrix Solutions to supply it with Web-based CRM and sales analytics software. Allbritton Communications has eight TV stations that serve markets in […]
Net revenues were down 8.2% to $49.3 million and operating income fell 27.7% to $16.1 million, the company said, attributing the declines to a drop in political ad money from $4.6 million in 2010 to $28,000 in this year’s quarter.
Joe DeFeo will become the news director for Albritton Communications’ Washington cable news channel News Channel 8. He will start on July 25. DeFeo has spent more than 30 years working […]
CEO Jack Perry says in addition to developing the platform that stations will be able to use to deliver their programming via broadband to interconnected TV sets, tablets and smart phones in their markets, his company is also lining up national programming to supplement whatever programming the participating stations choose to put on the platform. Preliminary testing on stations is slotted for next month, with the goal of a commercial rollout by January’s CES.
Washington-based Allbritton Communications is relaunching WJLA.com as a local and regional news site today. Its sister site, former hyperlocal news site TBD.com, also gets a new look today.
As it upgrades to HD news, the station group owner is adding 25 studio cameras and 107 ENG cameras. The ProHD units use non-proprietary SDHC cards and feature native file recording for Adobe Premiere Pro, which is already in use throughout the station group.
Allbritton Communications is giving up on its efforts to reinvent local news for the online era. Washington, D.C., local news site TBD is laying off at least 12 staffers — eliminating most of its news staff. Editor Erik Wemple told Washington City Paper, “TBD will become a niche site on arts and entertainment. We are building out a big new presence on WJLA.com.”