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Sinclair affil battle gets boost in L.A.

Two days after a Baltimore court ruled in favor of Sinclair Broadcast Group, Los Angeles Superior Court has issued a stay in UPN’s lawsuit challenging the station group’s planned affiliate switch to the WB.

The L.A. court, as expected, is placing the lawsuit in a holding pattern until Sinclair and UPN have exhausted all options in Baltimore.

Options include a settlement or an appeal of Monday’s decision by the Baltimore City Circuit Court, which ruled that Sinclair gave UPN proper notice that five of its stations will defect from UPN to the WB in January.

Stations planning to join the WB are in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Pa., Cincinnati, Ohio, San Antonio, Texas, and Oklahoma City, Okla. Sinclair’s Indianapolis, Ind., station also is expected to become a WB affiliate after the WB’s current affiliate contract there expires.

The decision by the Los Angeles court to defer to Baltimore is the second victory in the case for Sinclair this week. A UPN spokeswoman issued a terse statement, saying only: “We are looking at all our options.”

Any settlement talks are expected to include discussion of four UPN-Sinclair stations that were not included in the WB deal. Sinclair CEO-designate Barry Baker said he does not intend to renew those station affiliations with UPN, but he added that he always is open to talking.

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