Sinclair Broadcast Group

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Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.
Formerly called
Chesapeake Television Corporation
Public
Traded as NASDAQSBGI
Industry Broadcast media
Telecommunications
Mass media
Private equity
Founded April 11, 1971 (1971-04-11)
Baltimore, Maryland
Founder Julian Sinclair Smith
Headquarters Hunt Valley, Maryland, United States
Key people
David D. Smith
(Chairman, President & CEO)
Christopher Ripley
(CFO)
Products Broadcasting equipment
Production output
Sports and news programming
Services Broadcast television
Radio
Revenue $765 M USD (2011)[1]
$75.8 M USD (2011)[1]
Total assets $1.57 B USD (2011)[1]
Owner Smith family (controlling)
Divisions Sinclair Networks
Sinclair Original Programming
Subsidiaries Sinclair Television Group
Chesapeake Television
Ring of Honor
Dielectric
Keyser Capital
Sinclair Investment Group
Website www.sbgi.net

Sinclair Broadcast Group is an American telecommunications company that is owned by the family of company founder Julian Sinclair Smith. Headquartered in Hunt Valley, Maryland, the company is the largest television station operator in the United States, owning or operating a total of 154 stations across the country (165 after all currently proposed sales are approved) in nearly 80 markets (covering 30% of American households), many of which are located in the South and Midwest. Sinclair also owns or operates four radio stations, all located in the Pacific Northwest. Among other non-broadcast properties, Sinclair also owns the Ring of Honor (ROH) professional wrestling promotion.

Though Sinclair became a public company in 1995 and is currently traded on NASDAQ under the symbol SBGI, the Smith family still retains a majority financial interest, and all four sons of Julian Smith serve as executives or directors – with David D. Smith currently heading the company as its chairman, president and chief executive officer.

History[edit]

The company, founded by Julian Sinclair Smith, originated in 1971 as the Chesapeake Television Corporation. Its founding television station property was WBFF (channel 45) in Baltimore, Maryland, which signed on the air on April 11 of that year. A subsidiary of Chesapeake Television Corporation, the Commercial Radio Institute, later founded WPTT (channel 22, now WPNT) in Pittsburgh, in 1978; and WTTE (channel 28) in Columbus, Ohio, in 1984. All three stations originally were independents, though WBFF and WTTE became charter affiliates of the Fox Broadcasting Company at its launch in 1986.

Smith's son David D. Smith began taking a more active role in the company in the 1980s. In 1985, the Chesapeake Television Corporation changed its name to the Sinclair Broadcast Group. In 1990, David Smith and his three brothers bought their parents' remaining stock and went on a buying spree that eventually made it one of the largest station owners in the country, through the purchases of groups such as Act III Broadcasting (in 1995) and River City Broadcasting (in 1996).

Sinclair pioneered the concept of the local marketing agreement (LMA) in American television in 1991, when it sold WPTT to its general manager Eddie Edwards (founder of Glencairn, Ltd., the Sinclair-affiliated licensee that would eventually become Cunningham Broadcasting) in order to purchase fellow Pittsburgh station WPGH-TV to comply with FCC ownership rules of the time that prohibited duopolies, while agreeing to allow Sinclair to retain operational responsibilities for the station. However, while LMAs would become an integral part of the company's business model in subsequent years, Sinclair's plans to acquire KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City through Glencairn, which would subsequently attempt to sell five of its 11 existing LMA-operated stations to Sinclair outright in turn (with Sinclair stock included in the deal) was challenged by the Rainbow/PUSH coalition (headed by Jesse Jackson) to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1998, citing concerns over a single company controlling two broadcast licenses in the same market in violation of FCC rules. The coalition argued that Glencairn passed itself off as a minority-owned company (Edwards is African American) which, since the Smith family controlled most of the company's stock, was technically a Sinclair arm that planned to use the LMA with KOKH to gain control of the station and create an illegal duopoly with KOCB.[2][3] In 2001, the FCC levied a $40,000 fine against Sinclair for illegally controlling Glencairn.[4] Sinclair became a publically listed company in 1995, while the Smith family retained a controlling interest.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on July 14, 2009, Sinclair stated that if the company could not refinance its $1.33 billion debt or if Cunningham Broadcasting became insolvent due to nonpayment on a loan worth $33.5 million, Sinclair may be forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.[5] However, the company's seemingly recovered its financial fortunes enough, as it would begin a major string of acquisitions involving television stations and other properties two years later.

On May 21, 2011, it was announced that Sinclair had purchased the professional wrestling promotion Ring of Honor (ROH). As part of the purchase, Sinclair would produce a weekly, hour-long program for ROH to air on the group's stations, with the intent to eventually syndicate the show to non-Sinclair stations across the country.[6]

It also announced that the company was in talks to purchase Columbus, Ohio CW affiliate WWHO from LIN TV (Sinclair already owns ABC affiliate WSYX and manages Fox affiliate WTTE).[when?][7] However Manhan Media purchased that station in December 2011, though it immediately turned around in February 2012 and entered a shared services agreement with Sinclair, effectively giving them all but license control of WWHO and resulting in the company controlling three stations in the Columbus market (similar to the arrangement it has with WZTV, WNAB and WUXP in Nashville).[citation needed]

On September 8, 2011, Sinclair entered into an agreement to purchase all of the assets of Four Points Media Group from Cerberus Capital Management for $200 million.[8] The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) gave its antitrust approval of the deal in late September; as a result, that October 1, Sinclair took over the management of the stations from the Nexstar Broadcasting Group through time brokerage agreements Cerberus would then pay Nexstar a portion of Sinclair's purchase price – $6.7 million – to terminate the outsourcing agreement, which was set to expire in March 2012, five months early. Sinclair would also supply working capital to the stations in consideration of service fees and performance incentives through the LMAs.[9] The group deal was officially completed on January 1, 2012 after the FCC approved it on December 21, 2011.

On November 2, 2011, it was announced that Sinclair would purchase all eight television stations owned by Freedom Communications in a move for Freedom to eliminate its debt.[7][10] Sinclair took over the operations of the Freedom stations on December 1, 2011 through time brokerage agreements. The deal was granted approval by the FCC on March 13, 2012 and was consummated on April 1.

On May 15, 2012, Sinclair renewed its affiliation agreement for its 19 Fox affiliates for five years through 2017. The agreement included the option for Sinclair to purchase Baltimore MyNetworkTV affiliate WUTB from Fox Television Stations at any point between July 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013. If exercised, this would create a virtual triopoly with flagship station WBFF and CW affiliate WNUV, which Sinclair manages under a local marketing agreement with Cunningham Broadcasting; it also gave Fox Television Stations the option to buy any combination of six Sinclair-owned CW and MyNetworkTV affiliates in three of four markets: Raleigh, North Carolina (WLFL and WRDC), Las Vegas, Nevada (KVCW and KVMY), Cincinnati, Ohio (WSTR-TV) and Norfolk, Virginia (WTVZ). Of these stations, WLFL and WTVZ are both former Fox charter affiliates, having disaffiliated with the network in 1998 to become affiliates of The WB.[11]

On July 19, 2012, Sinclair announced it would acquire six stations from Newport Television, including WKRC-TV in Cincinnati, WOAI-TV in San Antonio, WHP-TV (along with its LMA for WLYH-TV) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, WPMI-TV and WJTC in Mobile, Alabama and KSAS-TV (along with its LMA for KMTW) in Wichita, Kansas for $412.5 million. Concurrently, Sinclair announced that it would also acquire Tampa station WTTA outright from Bay Television (which Sinclair operated under a LMA), for $40 million.[12] Sinclair also sold two stations, WSTR-TV and KMYS, to Deerfield Media, a company owned by Stephen P. Mumblow (the owner of Manhan Media), in order to satisfy the FCC's restrictions on duopolies. Sinclair continues to operate these two stations under shared services agreements. Sinclair also gave Deerfield Media the option to purchase WJTC and WPMI at a later date.[when?][12][13]

On November 26, 2012, Sinclair exercised its option on WUTB through its recently formed LMA partner Deerfield Media (the transfer was formally consummated on June 1, 2013). In January 2013, Fox announced that it would not exercise its option from the 2012 renewal deal to buy any of the Sinclair stations in the four markets. Therefore, Sinclair is required to pay Fox $25 million.[14] Deerfield Media also acquired Beaumont, Texas Fox affiliate KBTV-TV from Nexstar. Following the acquisition, Sinclair-owned KFDM took over its operations under a shared services agreement.[15] The deal was granted approval by the FCC for both Sinclair and Deerfield Media with their respective stations on November 19, 2012. The sale was consummated on December 3; on that day, Sinclair also acquired the non-FCC assets of ABC affiliate WHAM-TV in Rochester, New York from Newport, with the license and other FCC assets being transferred to Deerfield Media.[16]

On February 25, 2013, Cox Media Group announced that it would sell its four smallest (by market size) television stations – KFOX-TV in El Paso, Texas, WJAC-TV in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, KRXI-TV in Reno, Nevada and WTOV-TV in Steubenville, Ohio – to Sinclair. Cox sold these stations as part of a refocus on larger markets.[17] Concurrently, Deerfield Media acquired the license assets of KAME-TV in Reno, which has long been operated by KRXI, from Ellis Communications.[18] WJAC-TV and WTOV-TV have overlapping coverage with Sinclair's existing stations in Pittsburgh, WPGH-TV and WPNT (incidentally, since WPGH's news department was shut down in 2006, Cox-owned WPXI has maintained a news sharing agreement with that station to produce its 10:00 p.m. newscast).[citation needed]

Three days later, on February 28, 2013, Sinclair announced the purchase of Barrington Broadcasting's 18 stations; six other stations operated by Barrington also came under the management of Sinclair.[19] Sinclair operates the former Cox and Barrington stations through a subsidiary, Chesapeake Television, which focuses on smaller markets;[18][19][20] this unit has separate management from Sinclair's main group, which operates the company's larger-market properties.[19] As part of the Barrington acquisition, Chesapeake Television inh erited Barrington's headquarters in Schaumburg, Illinois. Concurrently with the Barrington acquisition, Sinclair originally planned to transfer WYZZ-TV in PeoriaBloomington, Illinois and WSYT (and its LMA of WNYS-TV) in Syracuse, New York to Cunningham Broadcasting, because of FCC ownership restrictions, as Barrington already owned stations in these markets.[19] However, in an updated filing with the FCC on August 9, it was revealed that WSYT would instead be sold to Bristlecone Broadcasting, LLC; a company owned by Brian Brady, owner of Stainless Broadcasting Company.[21] Sinclair would continue to operate WSYT and WNYS through a transitional service agreement for six months, following consummation of the deal. The deal with Sinclair acquiring the four smaller-market Cox stations was granted approval by the FCC on April 29, 2013, with Deerfield Media's acquisition of KAME-TV following suit the next day. The Sinclair and Deerfield acquisitions of their respective Cox-controlled stations were consummated on May 1. The Barrington acquisition had to wait until November 18 to be granted FCC approval,[22] with formal consummation taking place on November 25.

On April 11, 2013, Sinclair announced that it would merge with Fisher Communications, which owned 20 television stations in the western United States, as well as three Seattle radio stations.[23] Sinclair reportedly beat out LIN Media in the bidding war for Fisher. As a result of the deal, Sinclair took over the operations of an additional former Newport Television station, KMTR in Eugene, Oregon (which Fisher, owner of KVAL-TV in Eugene, had reached a deal to operate under a shared services agreement),[23] and return to radio ownership for the first time since selling its previous radio group to Entercom and Emmis Communications in 1999 and 2000.[24][25] The deal was initially met with financial scrutiny; the law firm Levi & Korsinsky notified Fisher shareholders with accusations that Fisher's board of directors were breaching fiduciary duties by "failing to adequately shop the Company before agreeing to enter into the transaction," and Sinclair was underpaying for Fisher's stock.[26] Shortly after the announcement, a lawsuit was filed by a Fisher shareholder;[27] the suit was settled in July 2013,[28] with Fisher's shareholders approving the merger on August 6.[29] On August 7, the FCC granted its approval of the deal,[30] which was completed the next day.[31]

On June 3, 2013, Sinclair announced that it would purchase four stations from the Titan TV Broadcast Group – KMPH-TV and KFRE-TV in Fresno, California, KPTM in Omaha, Nebraska, and KPTH in Sioux City, Iowa. Sinclair also took over the operations of KXVO in Omaha and KMEG in Sioux City, which had been operated by TTBG through shared services agreements.[32] On April 23, TTBG had filed to sell a seventh station, KDBC-TV in El Paso, Texas, to Cunningham Broadcasting,[33] leading to speculation that the station's operations would be consolidated with Sinclair-owned KFOX-TV.[34] On August 7, Sinclair exercised its option to purchase KDBC outright from Cunningham Broadcasting.[35] FCC duopoly regulations normally disallow two of the four highest-rated stations (which are usually the affiliate stations of the "Big Four" networks) from being directly owned by a single entity. However, in this case (due to the presence of U.S.-based Spanish-language stations in the market among the top four), Sinclair cited that KDBC was ranked fourth overall in the El Paso market while KFOX was the sixth-rated station, permitting a direct purchase of the former.[36] The entire Titan deal closed on October 3.[37]

On June 18, 2013, the company announced its purchase of Dielectric Communications, a key supplier of television broadcasting antennas, from SPX. Dielectric had been scheduled to shut down by the end of July, which threatened to throw the FCC-proposed television spectrum auction and repacking scheme into disarray.[38]

On July 22, 2013, Horseshoe Curve Communications agreed to sell WWCP-TV in Johnstown, Pennsylvania to Cunningham Broadcasting for $12 million. Sinclair (which already owned NBC affiliate WJAC-TV) was to operate the station through shared services and joint sales agreements. Included in the deal was the existing LMA for WWCP-TV to operate WATM-TV, which would continue to be owned by Palm Television.[39] This would have effectively given Sinclair operational control of the commercial television stations in the entire Johnstown/Altoona/State College market (except for WTAJ-TV, which is owned by Nexstar Broadcasting Group), since the remaining stations are PBS member station WPSU-TV, low-powered stations and religious stations. However, on February 20, 2014, Horseshoe Curve informed the FCC that the sale of WWCP had fallen through;[40] as a result, the sale application was dismissed on February 24.[41]

On July 29, 2013, Sinclair agreed to acquire seven television stations owned by Allbritton Communications for $985 million. Allbritton sold the stations in order to refocus on its Politico website and newspaper. In addition to the television stations (all of which are affiliated with ABC) including Washington, D.C. flagship station WJLA-TV, the deal included a regional cable news channel in Washington, D.C., NewsChannel 8, which Sinclair has indicated may be the base for a larger expansion in cable news.[42] Concurrent with the deal, Sinclair was to have sold the license assets for WABM and WTTO in Birmingham, Alabama and WHP-TV in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Deerfield Media and for WMMP in Charleston, South Carolina to Howard Stirk Holdings, a company owned by conservative talk show host Armstrong Williams (these four stations are in markets also served by an Allbritton station); Sinclair would have continued to operate them through joint sales and shared services agreements.[43] However, on March 21, 2014, in advance of an FCC vote that barred joint sales agreements, Sinclair announced that it would instead sell WABM, WHP-TV and WMMP to independent third parties that would not enter into any operational agreements with Sinclair, assign the grandfathered time brokerage agreement for WLYH-TV in Lancaster to the new owner of WHP-TV and terminate the local marketing agreement for WTAT-TV in Charleston (Sinclair would retain ownership of WTTO and the grandfathered time brokerage agreement for WDBB in the revised deal).[citation needed] Unable to find buyers for stations that it tried to sell in the two markets, on May 29, Sinclair announced a proposal to relinquish the licenses of three ABC affiliates (WCFT-TV in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, WJSU-TV in Anniston, Alabama, – both serving as full-power satellites of Birmingham ABC affiliate WBMA-LD at the time – and WCIV in Charleston) to the FCC, and move ABC programming to the company's existing MyNetworkTV-affiliated stations in those markets, WABM and WMMP, in order to expedite approval of the deal.[44][45] On June 23, the company announced its intention to sell WHTM-TV in Harrisburg to Media General for $83.4 million. The company also announced the sale of the non-license assets of WTAT to Cunningham.[46] After nearly a year of delays, the deal was approved by the FCC on July 24, 2014.[47] Sinclair completed the sale on August 1.[48]

On September 25, 2013, Sinclair announced that it would purchase eight stations owned or operated by New Age Media. To comply with FCC ownership regulations, three stations – WSWB in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, WTLH in Tallahassee, Florida and WNBW-DT in Gainesville, Florida – were to be sold to Cunningham Broadcasting; a fourth station, WTLF in Tallahassee, was to be purchased by Deerfield Media. These four stations would have been operated by Sinclair through joint sales and shared services agreements; WSWB, WNBW and WTLF are owned by MPS Media, but have long been operated by New Age Media through such agreements (which Sinclair will continue), while WTLH cannot be acquired by Sinclair directly due to its existing ownership of WTWC-TV.[49][50] New Age Media and MPS Media requested the dismissal of its applications to sell the stations on October 31, 2014;[51][52][53][54][55][56] the next day, Sinclair purchased the stations' non-license assets and began operating them through a master service agreement.[57][58]

On October 31, 2013, Sinclair acquired the non-license assets of WPFO, the Fox affiliate in Portland, Maine, from Corporate Media Consultants Group for $13.6 million; Sinclair's existing Portland property, WGME-TV, has produced a newscast for the station since 2007.[59] On November 20, it was announced that Cunningham Broadcasting would acquire KRNV's license assets for $3.4 million.[60]

On November 22, 2013, Sinclair announced it had acquired the non-license assets of Reno NBC affiliate, KRNV-DT, from Intermountain West Communications Company, for $26 million; with the purchase, the company was expected to replace Sinclair-owned KRXI's simulcast of San Francisco Fox station KTVU's morning and 10:00 p.m. newscasts with locally produced newscasts produced by KRNV.[61] On December 19, it was announced that Cunningham Broadcasting will acquire the license assets of KRNV and its semi-satellite in Elko, KENV-DT, for $6.5 million.[62][63]

On March 24, 2014, Frontier Radio Management reached a deal to sell Macon, Georgia Fox affiliate WGXA to Sinclair for $33 million.[64][65]

Sinclair signed an agreement in June 2014 to carry the classic film subchannel network GetTV in 33 markets by the end of September.[66] In July of that year, Sinclair announced the launch of the American Sports Network (ASN), operating within its Sinclair Networks division; this service, which produces and distributes college sports broadcasts, is primarily carried on Sinclair stations.[67] ASN was created as part of the company's foray into original, non-news content creation beyond Ring of Honor Wrestling and school sports; subsequently on August 21, 2014, the company announced the formation of Sinclair Original Programming, a new division concentrating on entertainment and commercial content. The company also announced plans for a future cable news network. The Original Programming division chief operating officer was announced as Arthur Hasson.[68]

On August 20, 2014, Sinclair announced that it would swap WTTA in Tampa and KXRM-TV and KXTU-LD in Colorado Springs to Media General in exchange for WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island, WLUK-TV and WCWF in Green Bay and WTGS in Savannah, Georgia. The deal was part of Media General's merger with LIN Media, the owner of WLUK and WCWF and operator of WTGS at that time, as both Media General and LIN owned stations in the three markets, requiring both companies to sell off stations in conflicting markets due to the FCC's recent decision to scrutinize sharing agreements between stations owned by different licensees.[69][70] The swap was approved by the FCC alongside the Media General-LIN merger on December 12, 2014.[71]

On September 3, 2014, Sinclair announced the purchase of Las Vegas NBC affiliate KSNV-DT from Intermountain West Communications Company for $120 million. As Sinclair already owns a duopoly in Las Vegas (KVMY and KVCW), the company will sell the license assets (though not the programming) of one of the three stations to comply with FCC ownership restrictions, with the divested station's programming being relocated to the other stations.[72] The purchase of KSNV's non-license assets was completed on November 1, 2014.[57]

On September 11, 2014, the license assets of WCIV were sold to Howard Stirk Holdings (pending FCC approval) and aside from sharing studio space with WMMP (which will retain the ABC affiliation and current programming of WCIV), will have no operational control from Sinclair, saving the station from being forfeited back to the FCC.[73][74][75] Similar sales were filed with the FCC for WBMA-LD satellite stations WCFT-TV on September 24[76] and WJSU-TV on September 28.[77]

Programming[edit]

Sinclair had experimented with using a centralized news organization called News Central that provided prepackaged news segments for distribution to several of the group's stations. These segments were integrated into programming during local news broadcasts. Mark E. Hyman, a high-ranking executive at Sinclair, also created "The Point", a series of conservative editorial segments that were broadcast on stations operated by the group that maintain news departments.[78][79]

Political programming[edit]

Sinclair has been known for making several politically motivated programming decisions across its stations, some of which have proven controversial.

In April 2004, Sinclair's ABC affiliates refused to air an episode of Nightline that featured a reading of the names of soldiers killed in the 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. In response, Sinclair argued that the broadcast "[appeared] to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq." ABC responded, saying that the program was meant to be "an expression of respect which seeks to honor those who have laid down their lives for this country."[80][81] Afterward, the company's political slant was scrutinized by critics when it was publicized that nearly all of Sinclair's recent campaign contributions were to the Republican Party. In particular, the Center for Public Integrity showed concern that the Republican slant of Sinclair's news programming, along with Mark Hyman's past history of government lobbying (particularly calling on the FCC to loosen rules regarding concentration of media ownership), made its stations provide "anything but fair and balanced news programming." Hyman disputed these allegations by stating that its newscasts were "pretty balanced" and that "the reason why some on the left have characterized us as conservative is that we run stories that others in the media spike."[78][80]

Later in October 2004, just two weeks prior to the 2004 presidential election, it was reported that all 62 of Sinclair's stations would preempt prime time programming to air Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal, a documentary critical of U.S. presidential candidate John Kerry's anti-Vietnam War activism.[82] The film was produced by Carlton Sherwood, a former associate of Tom Ridge, and accused Kerry of prolonging the Vietnam War because of his anti-war activism. The organization Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, an anti-Kerry organization whose name become well known in the 2004 election year, was cross-promoting the film as part of a $1.4 million advertising campaign.[83] In response, the Democratic National Committee filed a legal motion with the Federal Election Commission stating that it is inappropriate for the media organization to air "partisan propaganda" in the last 10 days of an election campaign.[84] Following the incident, Sinclair fired its Washington bureau chief Jon Lieberman for publicly criticizing the film in The Baltimore Sun as "biased political propaganda."[85]

In November 2010, it was reported that five Fox affiliates and one ABC affiliate owned by Sinclair broadcast an infomercial critical of President Barack Obama, Breaking Point: 25 Minutes that will Change America, which was sponsored by the National Republican Trust Political Action Group.[86] The infomercial painted Obama as an extremist, and claimed that, during the 2008 presidential campaign, he received some campaign money from the Hamas terrorist group, and that Obama said in a speech, "You want freedom? You’re gonna have to kill some crackers! You gonna have to kill some of those babies." The special also discusses Obama advisers Van Jones and John Holdren, as well as Obama staff Anita Dunn, Kevin Jennings, Carol Browner and Cass Sunstein – all in an unflattering light; in one case, the special claimed that Holdren said that trees should be permitted to sue humans in court. The infomercial aired at various times during the weekend of October 30 on Sinclair-owned stations in Madison, Wisconsin; Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Lexington, Kentucky; Pittsburgh; Des Moines; and Winston-Salem – all in swing states vital to the 2010 elections.[87][88]

On November 5, 2012, six Sinclair stations in swing states aired a special focusing on issues surrounding the presidential election occurring the next day, such as the Libyan civil war and health care reform; the special consisted of a series of segments which were presented by the local anchors at each station. While scheduling of the special was at the discretion of each station, Columbus, Ohio ABC affiliate WSYX pre-empted both ABC World News and Nightline to air it.[89] The special was met with controversy for showing a bias against Obama and focusing little on Republican candidate Mitt Romney, as opposed to showcasing both candidates equally. In particular, a writer for the political website Talking Points Memo felt that the special "sounded more like Fox News than local news." A Sinclair staff member disputed these claims, stating that "no one is disputing the facts of the stories that aired in the special," and that its decision on which markets to air the special was influenced by their "news value" and resonation with the public.[89]

Retransmission disputes[edit]

Suddenlink[edit]

In the summer of 2006, Charter Communications streamlined its operations, which included selling off portions of the cable system's service franchises that it considered to be "geographically non-strategic". Charter's Huntington-Charleston, West Virginia franchise was purchased by Suddenlink Communications. Sinclair requested a $40 million one-time fee, and a $1-per subscription per month fee from Suddenlink for retransmission rights of both ABC affiliate WCHS-TV and Fox affiliate WVAH-TV on the Suddenlink cable system.[90] This led to a protracted media battle and smear campaign between the two companies, and Sinclair pulled the two stations off of Charter's systems in the neighboring Beckley, West Virginia market.[citation needed] After several weeks of negotiations, the two companies reached an agreement which allowed WCHS-TV and WVAH-TV to continue transmission over the Suddenlink cable system. The terms of the agreement were not released to the public.[91]

Mediacom[edit]

Mediacom filed an antitrust lawsuit against Sinclair on October 2006, claiming that the group insisted on blanket carriage of 22 Sinclair-owned/managed stations across Mediacom-operated service areas where Sinclair operates a television station regardless of market differences. The District Court for the Southern District of Iowa denied Mediacom's injunction motion on October 24; the cable provider filed an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, but dropped the request on December 13.[92] Sinclair's retransmission agreement with Mediacom was originally set to expire on December 1, 2006, but the group later extended the deadline to January 5, 2007. Despite the extension, the two sides remained at an impasse over how much money Mediacom should pay Sinclair for carriage of its stations. On January 4, the Federal Communications Commission's Media Bureau denied Mediacom's complaint, stating that Sinclair failed to negotiate with Mediacom in good faith. After failing to respond to Mediacom's offer to take the dispute to binding arbitration before the deadline, Sinclair pulled all 22 stations from Mediacom's lineups shortly after midnight on January 6.[93]

Despite a plea from Iowa's Congressional delegation urging the two sides to submit to binding arbitration, Sinclair rejected the plea on January 11.[94] The two sides discussed the dispute in front of Iowa lawmakers on January 23.[95] On January 30, 2007, Senators Daniel Inouye, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and Ranking Member Ted Stevens signed a letter addressed to FCC chairman Kevin Martin.[96] The impasse ended on February 2 when Mediacom announced that it had reached a retransmission agreement with Sinclair for undisclosed terms. All 22 stations were restored to Mediacom systems shortly after the agreement was announced.[97] Mediacom lost 14,000 subscribers during the last quarter of 2006 and an additional 18,000 subscribers during the first quarter of 2007.[98]

In December 2009, Sinclair announced that it would pull all of its stations from Mediacom systems for the second time in three years if a new carriage agreement was not reached by midnight on December 31. The impasse had threatened coverage of the January 5 Orange Bowl in Iowa, where the Hawkeyes played, and the January 7 2010 BCS National Championship Game in Alabama. Mediacom and lawmakers from Iowa and Alabama asked the FCC to intervene.[99] On December 31, Mediacom and Sinclair agreed to an eight-day extension of the retransmission agreement that permitted Sinclair's stations to remain on Mediacom until January 8.[100] Both sides reached a one-year retransmission agreement on January 7, one day before the interim agreement was set to expire.[101]

Time Warner Cable[edit]

Sinclair was also involved with retransmission negotiations with Time Warner Cable at the same time as the Mediacom dispute in 2006 and 2007, however in this case, the two sides reached an agreement on January 19, 2007.[102]

In November 2010, Sinclair announced that it would pull 33 of its stations in 21 cities from Time Warner Cable on January 1, 2011, if the two parties did not come to an agreement.[103] The deadline was subsequently extended to January 14, 2011.[104] Regardless of the outcome, Time Warner Cable was obligated to carry Fox network programming on its systems due to a deal reached with the network earlier in 2010, however the agreement did not extend to syndicated and locally produced programs on Sinclair's Fox affiliates.[105] The two companies reached an agreement on January 15, 2011, shortly after the deadline was extended by another 24 hours.[106]

Comcast[edit]

In a January 5, 2007 article, Broadcasting & Cable reported that Sinclair might pull 30 stations from Comcast systems after its retransmission agreement was slated to expire on February 5.[107] Comcast was granted an extension to March 1,[108][109] and again to March 10.[110] Comcast stated that it would not pay cash for retransmission rights, but was willing to barter, for example, promoting Sinclair stations on cable channels carried by Comcast devoid of any advertising payments by the company.[111] On March 9, Comcast and Sinclair jointly announced a four-year deal for retransmission rights, expiring on March 1, 2011.[112]

Sinclair and Comcast came to a new agreement for continued carriage on March 3, 2011; this agreement was negotiated without any public statements or announcements.[113][114]

Dish Network[edit]

Dish Network's retransmission agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group was slated to expire on August 13, 2012. If an agreement had not reached by that time, 74 Sinclair stations would have been blacked out, including the affiliates of three of the major networks. A representative for Dish Network stated that Sinclair is "...seeking a massive price increase that would force Dish to pay more to carry Sinclair’s stations than it pays to any other broadcaster." A Sinclair representative, meanwhile, stated that it "believes significant doubt exists as to whether or not a new agreement will be reached with Dish." Dish Network subsequently set up its own website regarding the dispute.[115] Dish and Sinclair came to an agreement on August 16, averting the removal of its any of the group's stations.[116]

On August 25, 2015, ten days after the 2012 retransmission agreement had expired, Dish customers lost access to 129 Sinclair stations, resulting in the largest local television blackout in history [117]

DirecTV[edit]

DirecTV's retransmission agreement with Sinclair was slated to expire on February 28, 2013. If an agreement had not been reached by that date, 87 Sinclair stations were to be blacked out by the satellite provider. Representatives for Sinclair noted that they "...have been negotiating for quite some time in an effort to reach a new agreement, at this time it does not appear that these efforts will be successful. Although Sinclair does not believe that it is constructive to negotiate its private business relationships in public, Sinclair is informing the public in advance of the end of carriage because it is aware of the impact on a segment of the public from the end of the relationship between the Sinclair stations and DirecTV." DirecTV stated "we will compensate Sinclair fairly, but our customers should not be forced to pay more than twice as much for the same programs that remain available completely free of charge over the air and online."[118] A new carriage agreement was reached between Sinclair and DirecTV on February 28, hours before the previous deal was to have expired.[119]

Sinclair stations[edit]

Most of the television stations run by Sinclair are owned by the company outright, however the company operates many others through either a local marketing agreements or shared services agreements. The company's stations are affiliates of various television networks: ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.

Sinclair also owned or managed several affiliates of the WB and UPN networks, which both launched in January 1995. In September 2006, The WB and UPN merged their operations into a new network, The CW. Eight of Sinclair's WB stations, along with independent station KFBT (now KVCW) in Las Vegas, became affiliates of the new network. At the same time, Sinclair aligned 17 of its stations (ten former WB affiliates, six former UPN stations, and independent WFGX) with MyNetworkTV, a programming service owned by Fox's parent News Corporation. Sinclair's relationship with Fox/News Corporation was also strengthened after Sinclair agreed to a six-year affiliation renewal for its 19 Fox-affiliated stations. The deal also included flagship WBFF in Baltimore, despite Fox already owning a station in that same market, MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated station WUTB; Sinclair would eventually purchase WUTB outright in 2012.

Holdings[edit]

  • Sinclair Networks – a division created by Sinclair in January 2014, with the hiring of its chief operating officer Doron Gorshein. The division runs American Sports Network, an ad-hoc sports programming distributor announced on July 17, 2014.[67]
  • Sinclair Original Programming – a division whose formation was announced by the company in August 2014; led by chief operating officer Arthur Hasson, the division will concentrate on entertainment and commercial content.[68]

Chesapeake Television[edit]

Chesapeake Television
Public subsidiary
Industry Television broadcasting
Key people
Steve Pruett (COO)
Services Broadcast television
Advertising
Parent Sinclair Broadcast Group

Chesapeake Television is a subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group that owns television stations in smaller markets. Chesapeake was founded in 2013, to acquire small-market stations purchased through Sinclair's run of acquisitions.

As early as January 2013, Sinclair was looking at forming a new subsidiary group for its smaller-market stations.[120] With the February 2013 announcement of the company's purchase of Barrington Broadcasting, Sinclair announced the formation of a subsidiary for this purpose, Chesapeake Television, to be headed by Steve Pruett (former CEO of Communications Corporation of America and the current chairman of the Fox network's affiliate board).[19] The four stations, as well as a fourth acquired through an LMA, that Sinclair purchased from Cox Media Group and the Barrington stations formed the initial nuclei of the group.[121]

Stations[edit]

City of License / market Station Channel
TV (RF)
Years owned Affiliation
Reno, Nevada KRXI-TV 11 (44) 2013- Fox
KAME-TV 21 (20) N/A MyNetworkTV owned by Deerfield Media
(operated under an LMA)
Steubenville, OH - Wheeling, W.V. WTOV-TV 9 (9) 2013- NBC
Johnstown - Altoona, PA WJAC-TV 6 (34)
El Paso KFOX-TV 14 (15) Fox[122]

Sinclair Television Group[edit]

Sinclair Television Group
Public subsidiary
Industry Television broadcasting
Key people
Steve Marks (COO)
Services Broadcast television
Advertising
Parent Sinclair Broadcast Group

Sinclair Television Group is a subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group that owns television stations in mid-sized markets.[19]

Equity holdings[edit]

  • Acrodyne Technical Services, LLC – broadcasting equipment install, repairs
  • Dielectric, LLC – broadcasting equipment designer and manufacturer
  • Sterling Venture Partners, L.P. – private equity firm
  • Allegiance Capital Limited Partnership – private mezzanine venture capital fund
  • Patriot Capital II, L.P. – small businesses structured debt and mezzanine financing
  • Ring of Honor Wrestling Entertainment, LLC
  • Timeline Labs, LLC
  • Keyser Capital – a wholly owned subsidiary
    • Triangle Sign & Service, LLC – commercial signs manufacture and installs
    • Alarm Funding Associates, LLC – regional security funding, alarm operating and bulk acquisition company
    • Bay Creek South, LLC – planned resort communities (just less than 1,800 acres) near Cape Charles, Virginia
    • Patriot Capital III, LP – private equity firm
  • Sinclair Investment Group, LLC – a property investment company[123]

Affiliated companies[edit]

Affiliated companies in the case of Sinclair Broadcast Group are corporations formed to hold ownership of television stations, where SBG would run afoul of FCC ownership regulations, then sign Local marketing agreement to run the stations. The companies include, in addition to those mentioned in some detail below:

  • Deerfield Media
  • Mercury Broadcasting Company – a company that previously maintained local marketing agreements for its two stations with other companies; Sinclair took over the agreements for the stations in 2013. Sinclair purchased one of them outright, while its Wichita station KMTW remains under Mercury ownership, albeit operated by Sinclair under an LMA.
  • WDKA Acquisition Corporation

Cunningham Broadcasting[edit]

Cunningham Broadcasting (formerly known as Glencairn Ltd.) is a station holding company affiliated with Sinclair Broadcast Group via a relationship with the company's owners. Per a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Cunningham is owned by the estate of Carolyn C. Smith, the estate of Sinclair's controlling shareholders' parent, and trusts for the children of Sinclair's controlling shareholders. All six Cunningham stations have local marketing agreements with Sinclair-owned/managed stations. Based on these arrangements, Glencairn/Cunningham has served merely as a shell corporation with the sole purpose of evading FCC ownership rules.[124]

Howard Stirk Holdings[edit]

Howard Stirk Holdings is a licensing holding company formed to acquire certain television stations formerly owned by Barrington Broadcasting. It is owned by Armstrong Williams, founder and CEO of communications firm The Graham Williams Group.[19]

On December 4, 2014, the FCC approved the transfer of station licenses for WMMP in Charleston, South Carolina, WCFT-TV in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and WJSU-TV in Anniston, Alabama from Sinclair Broadcast Group to Howard Stirk Holdings, foregoing any operational agreements.[125][126]

Stations[edit]

City of License / market Station Channel
TV (RF)
Owned since Affiliation
Birmingham-Anniston-Tuscaloosa, Alabama WSES 33 (33) 2014 Heartland
WGWW 40 (9)
Flint-Saginaw-Bay City, Michigan WEYI-TV 25 (30) NBC
Myrtle Beach-Florence, South Carolina WWMB 21 (21) 2013 The CW[127]
Charleston, South Carolina WGWG 4 (34) 2014 ABC

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External links[edit]