Allbritton to Sell ABC Affiliates, Including KATV, to Sinclair Broadcast Group

by Lance Turner  on Monday, Jul. 29, 2013 9:00 am  

KATV-TV, Channel 7

Allbritton Communications of Arlington, Va., which owns KATV-TV, Channel 7, and other ABC affiliates, said Monday that it is selling those television stations to Sinclair Broadcast Group of Hunt Valley, Md., the country's largest television station owner.

According to Politico, which is also owned by Allbritton, the deal is worth $985 million. An Allbritton news release said the sale is scheduled to close in the fourth quarter.

"Sinclair is the ideal buyer of our superb television stations. Its existing reach and history of innovation matches exceptionally well with our long tradition of viewer service and news gathering excellence," Allbritton CEO Robert Allbritton said in a news release. 

"[Sinclair President and CEO] David Smith and his team have been a pleasure to work with. I am confident that their leadership and resources will enable our stations to reach new heights of service to our communities."

Allbritton announced in May its intention to sell those stations, saying it wants to focus on its digital properties, including Politico. The TV portfolio includes KATV, Allbritton's flagship station WJLA-TV in Washington D.C., and NewsChannel 8, a 24-hour news channel that's also in the nation's capital.

Reporting the news on its website, KATV called the deal a "behind-the-scenes business matter."

"As a note to our viewers, KATV wants to emphasize that this is only a behind-the-scenes business matter happening at the corporate level," the station wrote. "KATV will continue to bring you the best local news, weather and sports coverage you have counted on us to provide for more than 50 years."

KATV General Manager Mark Rose did not return a phone call before deadline.

Doug Krile, executive director of the Arkansas Broadcasters Association, called Sinclair a long-time industry player that "obviously has been doing something right to become the biggest in the country." He said the company has been known for its leadership in centralized operations. 

Under the deal, Sinclair will purchase the stock of Allbritton's parent company, Perpetual Corporation, and the equity interest of an affiliate, Charleston Television LLC. To comply with federal local TV ownership rules, Sinclair said it expects to sell the licenses of four of its existing stations in three markets -- Birmingham, Ala., Harrisburg/Lancaster/Lebanon/York, Pa., and Charleston, S.C., -- and operate them under shared services and joint sales agreements.

"To buy a full-blown news operation in our nation's capital and an infrastructure that allows us to be connected to our branches of government and be at the pulse of national issues is a once-in-a lifetime event," Smith said in a news release.

"We are especially excited to acquire the NewsChannel 8 local news channel, not only for the content it can provide our existing news stations, but moreover because their regional cable presence provides the perfect platform should we decide to expand it into other markets, especially given the amount of local news we produce across our entire portfolio."



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