Fox near deal for 6 Sinclair TV stations: report

Deal-making
Sinclair is seeking to divest stations in Seattle and Salt Lake City (along with six other markets) in order to comply with the FCC’s duopoly rule. (Pixabay)

21st Century Fox is reportedly close to a deal to buy six TV stations from Sinclair Broadcast, including Fox affiliates in Cleveland, Denver, Sacramento, Salt Lake City and Seattle.

According to Variety, the deal also includes Tribune’s CW affiliate in Miami and an agreement for a long-term extension of Sinclair’s remaining Fox affiliate stations. Variety’s source warned that the deal is still being finalized and could potentially include more stations.

In previous reports, Fox was said to be buying as many as 10 of Sinclair’s stations.

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The report surfaced after Sinclair submitted to the FCC a revised deal proposal this week for its $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media. In the filing (PDF), Sinclair revealed that it is seeking to divest stations in Seattle and Salt Lake City (along with six other markets) in order to comply with the FCC’s duopoly rule.

In the Seattle-Tacoma market, Sinclair owns ABC affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle, Univision affiliate KUNS-TV in Bellevue, Fox affiliate KCPQ(TV) in Tacoma, and MyNetwork affiliate KZJO(TV) in Seattle. The company said it intends to divest KCPQ(TV) and KZJO(TV) to third parties.

In Salt Lake City, Sinclair owns CBS affiliate KUTV(TV) and independent station KJZZ-TV. A subsidiary of Tribune is the licensee of Fox affiliate KSTU(TV) in Salt Lake City. Sinclair said it intends to sell KSTU.

RELATED: Sinclair submits new Tribune acquisition plan outlining proposed duopolies

Sinclair mentioned Denver in the filing as a market where Tribune currently owns two stations where the duopoly rule would allow Sinclair to acquire the Tribune licenses without a Top-Four showing. In Denver, Tribune is the licensee for stations KDVR(TV) and KWGN-TV. Sinclair does not currently own any stations in Denver.

In the filing, Sinclair did not mention specific divestiture plans for the Cleveland, Miami or Sacramento market stations.

Elsewhere in the filing, Sinclair surprisingly revealed its intentions to sell off independent stations WGN-TV in Chicago, CW affiliate WPIX(TV) in New York City and Fox affiliate KSWB-TV in San Diego. Sinclair has agreed to sell these stations in order to comply with the FCC’s national audience reach cap, set at 39%.

According to Sinclair, the sale of WPIX will reduce its reach by 6.31%, the sale of WGN-TV will reduce its reach by 1.51% and the sale of KSWB-TV will reduce its reach by 0.45%.

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