Despite all of the contentious chatter between FOX and Sinclair Broadcast Group over the latter’s plans to merge with Tribune Media and Sinclair’s rumored news department plans, the two broadcast media giants came together today to sign affiliation extension agreements for five Sinclair stations.
The agreement with the Twenty-First Century Fox-owned network means Sinclair’s FOX affiliates will not be in danger of losing NFL Football, Family Guy or Empire anytime soon. There had been discussion that iON Network stations could have been replacement stations, as relations between FOX and Sinclair have reportedly been sour of late.
The new multi-year deal includes WACH in Columbia, S.C.; KFOX in El Paso; KRXI in Reno, Nev.; WFXL in Albany, Ga.; and WSBT in South Bend, Ind.
“We are pleased we have reached this agreement with FOX, which includes the ability to participate in vMVPD deals,” said Barry Faber, Sinclair’s EVP/Distribution and Network Relations. “We have had a long standing relationship with FOX and this renewal reflects the mutually beneficial network-affiliate model, which marries together the network’s prime time and sports programming with our stations local news and syndicated content. We look forward to continuing to discuss with FOX the renewals of other affiliations which are up at the end of this year and in 2018.”
The news sent a rather moribund Sinclair’s shares up 6.9%, to $31.45. In after-hours trading, they gained another nickel, to $31.50.
It is a move in the right direction for a stock that on March 9 looked to propel past the $43 mark. Then came the fight from groups such as the American Cable Association against Sinclair’s proposed merger with Tribune Media over fears that the combined entity would create too much media concentration and run afoul of the FCC’s current rules.