Fox Renews TV Affiliations With Sinclair, Overcoming Competition Concerns

Sinclair Broadcast Group

So much for the talk about Fox locking horns with Sinclair Broadcast Group in a battle to see who can win the most fans of conservative political commentary.

Sinclair just announced that it has a multi-year deal to renew its Fox affiliation agreements in five markets reaching the end of their terms: Columbia, SC; El Paso, TX; Reno, NV; Albany, GA; and South Bend, IN.

Early this month Bloomberg reported that Fox and Ion were weighing a joint venture to include stations each company owns. That would have led Fox to switch its network affiliation from five Sinclair stations to Ion ones this year.

Today’s announcement sent Sinclair shares up 7%. The company has a $3.9 billion deal to buy Tribune Media. Its shares are up 2.2%.

“We are pleased we have reached this agreement with Fox, which includes the ability to participate in [live streaming] deals,” Sinclair EVP for Distribution and Network Relations Barry Faber says.

The renewal “marries together the network’s prime time and sports programming with our stations local news and syndicated content,” he adds. “We look forward to continuing to discuss with Fox the renewals of other affiliations which are up at the end of this year and in 2018.”

Fox was believed to be concerned about Sinclair’s efforts to promote conservative commentary at its local stations — making it a potential challenger to Fox News — as well as the broadcaster’s growing clout.

Last month HBO’s John Oliver blasted Sinclair’s policies regarding “must-run” pieces for its stations including commentary from President Trump’s former senior advisor Boris Epshteyn and frequent reports from a “Terrorism Alert Desk.”

“Sinclair and its digital news subsidiary Circa not only produce and send packages to their stations; they even write scripts that local anchors use to introduce the pieces,” Oliver said.

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