Thursday, June 29, 2017

Report: Sinclair May Have To Divest In 10 Markets

In filings seeking approval of Sinclair's $6.6 billion takeover of Tribune Media, the parties say they may have to divest stations in as many as 10 markets from Seattle to Des Moines to comply with the FCC's local ownership rules, TVNewsCheck is reporting.

"To the extent that divestitures may be necessary, applications will be filed upon locating appropriate buyers and signing appropriate purchase agreements," the parties say.

The parties contend in the filings that the deal is in the public interest.

"[It]will increase the merged company’s capability to serve the public by increasing its operational efficiencies, allowing Sinclair to upgrade the stations’ facilities, expand the stations’ local coverage (including local news), offer even greater value to multichannel video distributors, and increase syndicated and original programming offerings."

The local rules allow ownership of two stations in a market, but only if one is not among the market's top four rated and the market has eight other independently owned stations.

The parties identify 10 "overlap" markets where both Sinclair and Tribune now own stations in a way that would violate the local rules and may trigger the need for divestitures.

They are Seattle; St. Louis; Portland, Ore.; Salt Lake City; Oklahoma City; Greensboro, N.C.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Richmond, Va.; and Des Moines, Iowa.

(The filing notes that Sinclair also owns two AMs and two FMs in Seattle, but that their ownership does not run afoul of the TV-radio crossownership rule.)

The filing notes that there are two other overlap markets, Washington and Milwaukee, where Sinclair would end up with duopolies. But the parties say that both duopolies are within the bounds of the rules.

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