Sinclair Broadcast Group (NASDAQ: SBGI ) says it is on its way to becoming the nation's largest television broadcasting company if a definitive agreement it signed with the Allbritton family comes to fruition, according to an announcement today by Sinclair.
The $985 million transaction has Sinclair purchasing the stock of Perpetual Corporation and the equity interest of Charleston Television, companies owned by the Allbritton family.
Sinclair, a Baltimore-based company, would acquire nine additional television stations, including WJLA, the ABC affiliate in the country's No. 8 market, Washington, D.C. The other eight stations, also ABC affiliates, are located in Alabama, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Virginia, and South Carolina.
Also included is NewsChannel 8, the Washington, D.C., region's only 24-hour local cable and satellite news network. The D.C. metropolitan area has more than 2 million households.
"We are thrilled to add the Allbritton properties ... To buy a full-blown news operation in our nation's capital ... is a once-in-a-lifetime event," said Sinclair CEO David Smith. "We are especially excited to acquire the NewsChannel 8 local news channel ... because their regional cable presence provides the perfect platform should we decide to expand it into other markets ..."
Sinclair said it expects the deal to close in the fourth quarter of 2013, assuming it passes regulatory scrutiny. In order to meet the Federal Communication Commission's local television ownership rules, Sinclair said it expects to sell broadcast licenses and related assets of stations it already owns in those markets containing the newly agreed upon Allbritton station purchases.