Saturday, March 3, 2018

Sinclair Planning To Spin-Off WGN-TV9..Sorta...

Sinclair Broadcast Group plans on selling WGN-TV to a Maryland auto dealer but would remain in control of the station in what critics say is a bid to skirt ownership limits and win federal regulatory approval for its proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media.

According to The Chicago Tribune, under the terms of the $60 million station sale, filed Wednesday with the Federal Communications Commission, Sinclair would provide everything from programming to advertising sales to the buyer, essentially running WGN-Ch. 9 through a services agreement.

The licensee of WGN would be a newly formed company headed by Steven Fader, a longtime business associate of Sinclair Executive Chairman David Smith. Sinclair will have an option to buy back the station for the same price, subject to adjustments, within eight years.

The services agreement puts Sinclair in charge of advertising sales and gives it the right to provide local news and other programming to WGN. Sinclair would keep 30 percent of all ad sales and receive a $5.4 million monthly service fee for operating the station during the first year, with annual increases and performance bonuses.

Fader is CEO of Atlantic Automotive Corp., a Towson, Md.-based auto dealership group in which Smith holds a controlling interest, according to Sinclair financial statements. Fader also is chairman and co-founder of private equity firm Atlantic Capital Group.

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