Sinclair files for duopolies

Approval may be difficult due to FCC concerns

With the duopoly grab in full swing, Sinclair Broadcast Group has filed with the FCC to acquire 10 TV properties in markets where it already owns other stations.

The 10 stations include six that had been owned by Glencairn Ltd. and/or Glencairn prexy Edwin Edwards but already managed by Sinclair under a controversial LMA arrangement.

Sinclair will pay $16.8 million in cash for Edwards’ WB affil WCWB-TV, Pittsburgh, where the station group already owns Fox affil WPGH.

The company will also acquire, for $8 million in Sinclair class A stock, Glencairn’s WB affil KRRT-TV, San Antonio; WB affil WBSC-TV, Greenville, S.C.; UPN affil WRDC-TV, Raleigh, N.C.; UPN affil WABM-TV, Birmingham, Ala.; and WVTV, Milwaukee, Wisc.

In the process, Glencairn will buy out Edwards’ interest in Glencairn for $1.5 million. Robert Simmons will take over Edwards’ duties as Glencairn’s chief figurehead.

Complaints filed

Earlier this year the FCC began looking into Glencairn’s close ties with Sinclair. In the past, station groups such as Pulitzer, Post-Newsweek and First Media have filed complaints with the commission, alleging that Sinclair evaded the then-current ban on owning more than one station in a market by forming LMAs with the minority-controlled Glencairn.

The Media Access Project’s Andrew Schwartzman said Sinclair may have a hard time getting approval of the duopolies due to lingering FCC concerns.

Sinclair prexy David Smith, however, said he didn’t believe Sinclair would have a problem getting the acquisition of the Glencairn stations approved.

“The commission has dealt with that issue ad nauseam the last eight years,” Smith said. “And each time the commission has approved (Sinclair’s actions). This duopoly should go through just like Tribune’s or anyone else’s.”

The four other stations to be acquired have also already been operated by Sinclair under LMAs: Fox affil KOKH, Oklahoma City, from Sullivan Broadcasting Co.; UPN affil WUXP-TV, Nashville, from Mission Broadcasting I, Inc.; UPN affil WUPN-TV, Greensboro, N.C., from Mission Broadcasting II, Inc.; and indie KFBT-TV, Las Vegas, Nev., from Montecito Broadcasting.

Sinclair said the aggregate purchase price of the four stations will be worth $53.2 million, $32 million of which will be paid in cash, the rest as forgiveness of indebtedness.

Sinclair will continue to program Glencairn’s WNUV-TV, Baltimore, Md., and WTTE-TV, Columbus, Ohio, as well as three stations that Glencairn will acquire from Sullivan Broadcasting Co.: WRGT-TV, Dayton, Ohio; WVAH-TV, Charleston, W.V.; and WTAT-TV, Charleston, S.C.

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