Sinclair Agrees to Pay $985M For Allbritton TV Stations

This is the biggest of Sinclair’s recent deals to bulk up its TV station portfolio — and it’s one that also will make it a prominent player in Washington. When completed, expected by year end, Sinclair will pick up seven ABC affiliates including Washington DC’s WJLA, and DC’s NewsChannel 8 cable news service.  “To buy a full-blown news operation in our nation’s capital and an infrastructure that allows us to be connected to our branches of government and be at the pulse of national issues is a once-in-a lifetime event,” Sinclair CEO David Smith says. He adds that NewsChannel 8 could also provide a “perfect platform should we decide to expand it into other markets, especially given the amount of local news we produce across our entire portfolio.” If he follows through by creating cable channels in his markets that blend local and national news, then it would create a network that’s “the first of its kind and likely to bring significant synergies,” says Wells Fargo Securities’ Marci Ryvicker. She adds that after the deal, Sinclair stations will reach about 22% of U.S. households. Allbritton Communications CEO Robert Allbritton said in May that he planned to unload the stations to help him build his political news site Politico and “place additional bets on media companies that meet my definition of successful journalistic and business enterprises. Politico continues to carry no debt, funds all investment with operating income and will still turn a profit, again, in 2013. That is the textbook definition of a thriving, sustainable new media company.” Sinclair made it clear that it sees a bright future for broadcasting with acquisitions this year of Fisher Communications and Barrington Broadcasting. Sinclair shares are up 2% in early trading, and are +197% over the last 12 months. Here’s the release about today’s TV station deal with financial details: (more…)

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