Sinclair to Sell 2 TV Stations in Move to Buy 7 ABC Affiliates, Including KATV

Sinclair Broadcast Group will sell two television stations in an effort to clear the way for its purchase of seven ABC affiliates, including KATV-TV, Channel 7, of Little Rock.

For a combined $97.4 million, Sinclair will sell ABC affiliate WHTM-TV in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Fox affiliate WTAT-TV in Charleston, South Carolina, to align with Federal Communications Commission cross-ownership rules that restrict the company from owning multiple stations in a local market.

The seven stations that Sinclair is seeking in a $985 million deal are owned by Allbritton Communications of Arlington, Virginia. Sinclair is hoping to close on the deal by July 27.

In March, Sinclair proposed transferring ownership of the Fox affiliate in Charleston to meet FCC guidelines. Sinclair also proposed altering the Allbritton deal in three markets — Harrisburg, Charleston and Birmingham, Alabama — to sell a CBS affiliate and two MyNetworkTV affiliates.

“The sales are part of Sinclair’s larger acquisition of the Allbritton Communications television stations in order to comply with regulatory rules in an effort to obtain approval of the Allbritton transaction by July 27, 2014,” Sinclair said in a statement. “Sinclair has no option on the stations and will not guarantee the debt or provide sales services for these stations.”

Sinclair’s announcement comes after a delay in the acquisition’s close date, which was projected in the fourth quarter of 2013. The revised acquisition plan moves the expected close to the third quarter of this year.