Sinclair buys more TV, radio stations Baltimore company's 3 deals place it among largest U.S. chains

Broadcasting

July 08, 1998|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. said yesterday that it has completed three deals in a growth spurt that has turned it into one of the nation's largest owners of radio and television stations.

In the biggest of the three deals, Sinclair purchased Max Media Properties LLC of Virginia Beach, Va., owner of nine television stations and eight radio stations, for $252 million in cash.

The newly acquired properties include two TV stations in the top 75 markets: WKEF, an NBC affiliate in Dayton, Ohio, and WSYT, a Fox affiliate in Syracuse, N.Y. Smaller-market television stations in the deal are in Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas and South Carolina.

Sinclair has applied to the Federal Communications Commission for waivers to own WKEF and WEMT -- which serves markets in Tennessee and Virginia -- because those stations' service areas overlap other Sinclair stations.

The FCC ruling on the waivers is pending, said David B. Amy, Sinclair's chief financial officer. In the meantime, the Baltimore company will program those stations under local marketing agreements with a former shareholder of Max Media.

In a related transaction, Sinclair agreed to sell WFOG-FM, WGH-FM and WGH-AM in Norfolk, Va., to Petracom Media LLC for $23 million to keep Sinclair within FCC ownership limits.

Sinclair will have four FM stations in Norfolk when the Petracom transaction is completed. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter, Sinclair said.

In the third deal, Sinclair completed its acquisition of the assets of Keymarket Radio of South Carolina Inc. for $8 million in debt forgiveness and $1 million in cash.

Keymarket owned one FM and two AM stations, programmed an additional AM and FM station under a local marketing agreement, and provided sales services to two other FM stations in Greenville, S.C.

Keymarket had a prior agreement to purchase the two stations with which it had local marketing agreements from Spartan Broadcasting. Sinclair completed that deal, purchasing the two stations for $5.2 million.

"Our stated goal is to own 100 television stations and a couple hundred radio stations," Amy said. "We still anticipate a lot of growth."

Upon completion of all pending transactions, Sinclair will own or program 57 television stations in 37 markets and 49 radio stations in 10 markets.

The company's television group will reach approximately 22.4 percent of U.S. households with televisions. Its radio group is among the top 10 in the United States.

Sinclair shares closed in trading yesterday at $28.125, down $1.4375.

Pub Date: 7/08/98

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