July 29, 2013

Sinclair Broadcast Group

Sinclair will buy Allbritton’s TV stations for $985 million, the company announced Monday. The stations purchased include WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C., WSET in Lynchburg, Va., and WCIV in Charleston, S.C.

In its release, Sinclair says it plans to “sell the license and certain related assets of its existing stations in Birmingham, AL – WABM (MNT) and WTTO (CW), Harrisburg/Lancaster/Lebanon/York, PA – WHP (CBS), and Charleston, SC – WMMP (MNT)” to comply with FCC rules.

Allbritton announced in May it would explore a sale of its TV assets so honcho Robert Allbritton could concentrate on “POLITICO and companies like it,” he wrote in a memo. Politico would not be part of such a sale, Allbritton wrote at the time. The stations, two of which are serve the lucrative swing state of Virginia, were expected to get bids of up to a billion dollars, Keach Hagey reported earlier this month.

The move comes after a series of consolidation moves in the local-TV business. Media General announced in June it would merge with New Young Broadcasting; Gannett announced not long after that it would buy Belo’s holdings; and Tribune Co. announced it would buy 27 Local TV Holdings stations in July.

Writing about the boom in acquisitions, Rick Edmonds noted that financing was available for such deals and political advertising and retransmission fees were growing. “It’s time to gobble or get gobbled,” one media analyst told The New York Times’ David Carr.

(Disclosure: I used to work for Allbritton.)

Correction: An earlier headline on this post misstated the amount Sinclair is paying. It is $985 million, not $985 billion.

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

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