Report: Allbritton Might Sell Station Group, Including KATV, to 2 Buyers

KATV-TV, Channel 7

Television trade publication TVNewsCheck on Friday cites sources who say Allbritton Communications Corp. of Arlington, Va., which owns KATV-TV, Channel 7, in Little Rock, and other ABC affiliates, might sell its TV properties to two buyers, not one, as Allbritton had originally planned.

According to the report, bids for Allbritton's eight stations are due on Monday, which fits with what we reported earlier this year. Two sources tell TVNewsCheck that Allbritton's flagship station, WJLA in Washington D.C., will likely sell separately from Allbritton's other properties:

Potential buyers for WJLA? Disney-ABC tops many lists.

"I would not be surprised and would be surprised at the same time," says one source in the financial community. "Just to have a station in Washington would make sense. But they have not bought a TV station in a long time."

The report says this is the first time in more than 10 years that a station in a top 10 Nielsen market has been put up for sale (Washington D.C. is ranked No. 8). The station is likely Allbritton's most valuable property by far, and it's in the nation's capital, which sets it apart from the rest of Allbritton's portfolio of mid-market stations, the report says.

The report also speculates on possible buyers, which include Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. and Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc., along with Hearst, LIN, Meredith, Raycom, Scripps and Tribune, which recently scooped up a boatload of stations, including CBS affiliate KFSM-TV, Channel 5, in northwest Arkansas.

We've noted the probability of Sinclair purchasing the stations and actually discounted the probability that Nexstar would scoop them up, given its already big presence in Little Rock. Nexstar owns NBC affiliate KARK-TV, Channel 4, and is the de facto owner of Fox affiliate KLRT-TV, Channel 16. (Nexstar also controls Little Rock's KARZ, a MyNetworkTV affiliate, and KASN, a CW affiliate.)

Would one station group in charge of three local newscasts (and four affiliates) in one DMA be palatable to the FCC? For what it's worth, remember that Nexstar also owns northwest Arkansas' NBC affiliate, KNWA-TV.

(Arkansas Business has a news-sharing partnership with Little Rock CBS affiliate KTHV-TV, Channel 11, and Lance Turner appears regularly on KTHV newscasts.)

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