Is Sinclair Finalizing A 10-Station Sale To FOX?


That’s what Financial Times’ Los Angeles-based Matthew Garrahan reports.

If true, 21st Century Fox will soon be making a Form 314 filing with the FCC that will see the transfer of control of “about” 10 stations from Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Garrahan cited “three people familiar with the sale” in his report, acknowledging that the sale of the stations to Fox is being done to win FCC and Department of Justice approval of its planned merger with Tribune Media.

While Financial Times did not list the stations being sold by Sinclair to Fox, it did mention such “key” National Football League markets as Denver and Seattle.

In Denver, Sinclair owns no stations. But, Tribune does. This means FOX affiliate KDVR-31 is likely becoming an O&O; Sinclair would take ownership of KWGN-2, the market’s affiliate for The CW.

In Seattle, the likely station heading to Fox is Tribune-owned KCPQ-TV, branded as “Q13.” It’s the FOX affiliate in the market. The other Tribune station, KZTO-TV “Joe TV,” could be merged into the existing Sinclair cluster. The online publication FTVLive reported in mid-December 2017 that Q13 would be dealt to Fox.

Sinclair would likely retain ownership of ABC affiliate KOMO-4 and Univision affiliate KUNS-50. Sinclair also owns and operates its only radio stations, inherited from its April 2013 acquisition of Fisher Broadcasting. The stations are Talk KVI-AM 570, Hot AC KPLZ-FM 101.5 and all-News KOMO-AM 1000 & FM 97.7; Sinclair recently exercised its option to acquire KOMO-FM after operating it via an LMA. Thus, Sinclair would keep its current cluster in Seattle, while adding one — or none — of Tribune’s stations there.

Helping Sinclair complete its merger with Tribune Media could also help “New Fox” in its quest to bolster its broadcast TV operations. With its intended $66.1 billion sale of 21st Century Fox, including the Twentieth Century Fox Film and Television studios, along with cable and international TV businesses to Disney, officially revealed Dec. 14, 2017, 21st Century Fox will separate the Fox Broadcasting network and FOX Television Stations GroupFox News Channel, Fox Business Network, Fox Deportes, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network (BTN) into a newly listed company that will be spun off to its shareholders.

As of 1pm Eastern on Wednesday, neither Fox nor Sinclair had commented on the Financial Times report.

Meanwhile, what are the other markets where could FOX soon have an O&O?

FTVLive listed Tribune’s FOX affiliate WJW-8 in Cleveland, KSWB-5 in San Diego, and WDAF-4 in Kansas City as part of a transaction valued between $1 billion and $1.5 billion.

Meanwhile, a RBR+TVBR analysis leads some other possibilities for FOX.

All eyes are on Salt Lake City, where Sinclair owns CBS affiliate KUTV-2, MyNetwork TV affiliate KMYU-12 and unaffiliated KJZZ-14; and Tribune owns FOX affiliate KSTU-13.

Additional attention will be given to Milwaukee, where Tribune owns FOX affiliate WITI-6 and Sinclair has MyNetwork TV affiliate WCGV-25 and The CW’s WVTV-19. 

Other possible spinoff markets include St. Louis, where Tribune owns FOX affiliate KTVI-2 and The CW-affiliated KPLR-11 and Sinclair owns ABC affiliate KDNL-30; and Columbus, Ohio, where FOX-affiliated WTTE-28 could be divested from Sinclair partner Cunningham Broadcasting. This would leave Sinclair ABC WSYX-6, and keep in place its shared services agreement with Manhan Media-owned WWHO-53, the CW affiliate for Ohio’s capital region.

Oklahoma City is also likely on the list of divestments, as Sinclair’s FOX affiliated KOKH-25 is in a duopoly with KOCB-34, the CW affiliate and would be gaining NBC affiliate KFOR-4 and unaffiliated KAUT-43.

Furthermore, Harrisburg, Pa.—a key market for the Philadelphia Eagles—will likely see Tribune spin off WPMG-43, the FOX affiliate in Pennsylvania’s capital city. Sinclair owns WHP-21, which is home to CBS on its main signal and to The CW and MyNetworkTV on digital multicast channels.

What are the three other markets likely involving a sale to FOX? Indianapolis, where Tribune owns FOX affiliate WXIN-59, gives Sinclair entry into the market but could be spun as Sinclair has no existing operations there.

WPFO-23, the FOX affiliate in Portland, Me., could also be in the mix; it is owned by Cunningham and operated via an LMA. Sinclair’s station in the market is WGME-13, the CBS affiliate.

Lastly, the Reno, Nev. market may also see its FOX affiliate in Fox hands. KRXI-11 is owned by Sinclair, but it operates NBC affiliate KRNV-4 through a joint sales and shared services agreement with Intermountain West Communications and operates MyNetwork TV affiliate KAME-21 through a similar arrangement with Deerfield Media.

Deerfield is the licensee of WUTB-24 in Baltimore and is the MyNetwork TV affiliate in Sinclair’s home market. This market could also be in play, with longtime FOX affiliate WBFF-45 a possible future O&O.