Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley dispelled rumors that his company was looking to compete against conservative news outlet Fox News.
In an interview with Variety, Ripley said that after Sinclair acquired Allbritton Communications in 2014, his company “looked hard” at launching a national cable news channel but ultimately decided against it.
“Our strength is local news. The market for national cable news is very well served,” Ripley told the publication.
The speculation over Sinclair’s desire to take on Fox News comes from the broadcaster’s must-run commentary segments—which have drawn criticism for leaning toward conservative viewpoints—as well as the company’s potential $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media.
Sinclair will be buying Tribune’s 42 television stations in 33 markets, cable network WGN America, digital multicast network Antenna TV, minority stakes in the TV Food Network and CareerBuilder, and a variety of real estate assets. Should the deal be approved, and factoring in other Sinclair deals like the recently completed Bonten Media acquisition, Sinclair will hold 233 stations in about 108 markets, according to Moody’s.
But Ripley’s comments seemingly negate any thoughts that Sinclair might try to compete by launching its own national network. The comments also seem to fly in the face of recent reports that Sinclair was seeking to snag new TV shows from Fox News expat Bill O’Reilly and current Fox News personality Sean Hannity.
O’Reilly is on the hunt for a new job after being let go from Fox News Channel earlier this year amid a sexual harassment scandal. Hannity is still at Fox News, but O’Reilly reportedly wants the two of them to team up for a new TV venture.