Sinclair’s Hasson Set To Boost Original Shows

Under its new programming COO, the station group is developing shows in virtually every genre of unscripted programming that it will attempt to syndicate to other broadcasters in an effort to “control costs and develop new revenue streams," Hasson says.

Look for original programming to increase dramatically at Sinclair Broadcast Group under Arthur Hasson, who now has sole responsibility for all programming at the sprawling station group.

That’s the word from Hasson himself, who says Sinclair is developing shows in virtually every unscripted genre, including talk, court and games. “It really has just started,” he says. “We have what I would call a slate of various shows for daytime or early fringe or access.

“[W]e’re not ready to launch anything or go wide,” Hasson says. “But we’ve optioned certain properties that we’re doing run-throughs and developing.”

Hasson is also not  ready to talk specifics other than to acknowledge the previously announced production deal with former Disney CEO Michael Eisner’s The Tornante Co.

Hasson had been COO of Sinclair Original Programming when he was given the new title of COO, Sinclair Programming, and the added responsibility of program acquisitions.

Bill Butler had been in charge of program acquisition for 18 years. With Hasson’s promotion, Butler has assumed a new role at Sinclair — senior vice president of promotion and corporate marketing.


Hasson says Sinclair is pushing into original programming as a means to “control costs and develop new revenue streams.”

To make the most of the shows, Sinclair will attempt to syndicate them to other broadcasters, he says. “[W]hen you look at building a financial model, typically that means you need to get 80% or 90% of the country, so there are few programs that you could support a realistic production on with half the country [cleared].”

Hasson also confirmed that Sinclair has agreed to an on-air test of a proposed new daytime strip combining elements of talk and true-crime shows from Terry Murphy and her New York-based production company, East 86th Street Productions.

The show titled The Security Brief with Paul Viollis will be tested for four weeks starting Dec. 21 on Sinclair stations in 13 markets — Baltimore, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Columbus, Birmingham, Asheville, Raleigh, Norfolk, West Palm Beach, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.

The show’s host, Paul Viollis, is billed as a security expert who will give tips for personal and household security in the context of true crime stories that will be showcased on the show. East 86th Street Productions has already produced 70 of 150 planned episodes of the show.

“I thought that each show had compelling crime stories and we know that works,” Hasson says.

“Moreover, it had a good host who is an expert in security, and each show talks about these crimes, but just as importantly, it gives you useful tips about avoiding [crimes] or what you should do or what you should think about. Terry’s a real innovator in that, between investors and fee spots, she was able to produce these demo shows. So it was a relatively easy decision to make because it didn’t really require any heavy lifting on our part.”

Hasson wouldn’t say whether Sinclair has a financial interest in The Security Brief.

Murphy says the show is being funded by a disparate group of private investors, including friends, acquaintances and associates.

The Security Brief has no national distributor and may not use one, Murphy says. How this would work is uncertain, but she says she is working with syndication consultant Barry Wallach, former president of NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution who manages distribution for Monopoly Millionaires Club.

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