FCC Media Bureau Says Parts of Sinclair/Allbritton Deal Would Violate Ownership Rules

The Federal Communication Commission's Media Bureau said Friday that part of Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.'s $985 million deal to purchase TV stations owned by Allbritton Communication Corp. would violate ownership rules.

From TVNewsCheck on Friday:

The FCC’s Media Bureau has alleged that the sidecar transactions that Sinclair Broadcast Group has proposed in three markets as part of its $985-million pending acquisition of Allbritton Communications  — Charleston, S.C., Birmingham, Ala., and Harrisburg, Pa. — would violate agency ownership rules.

Under the deals at issue, Sinclair is proposing to take over the Allbritton ABC affiliates in those markets, spin off one of its existing stations in the markets to sidecar companies, in transactions that would give Sinclair some control over at least some operations of multiple TV stations in each market.

As we noted at the end of November, the Sinclair/Allbritton deal has drawn formal complaints by the cable industry, a media watchdog and other nonprofitsSome of the complaints center on how Sinclair gets around ownership caps to control multiple television stations in a market.

Sinclair says it plans to respond to the FCC concerns, which were raised in a letter by FCC Video Division Chief Barbara Kreisman.

The deal would give the fast-growing Hunt Valley, Md.-based media company ownership of Allbritton's ABC affiliates, including Little Rock's KATV-TV, Channel 7, as well as a 24-hour cable news channel in Washington D.C.

Allbritton is getting out of the local television business completely to focus on Politico, the political news and analysis website and newspaper the company founded in 2007. Since announcing the deal to sell its TV stations, Allbritton has purchased Capital New York, a website founded by former editors of the New York Observer.

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