Sinclair begins to trim roster of stations

Company agrees to sell rights, some assets of two Texas TV operations

Broadcasting

February 27, 1999|By Mark Ribbing | Mark Ribbing,SUN STAFF

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. of Baltimore has begun carrying out its plan to pare down its roster of radio and television stations, announcing yesterday that it has agreed to sell its programming rights and some assets at two Texas TV stations.

Communications Corporation of America will pay $36 million in cash for the right to program KETK-TV and KLSB-TV, both of which are in the Tyler-Longview, Texas, market. Under the terms of the deal, CCA will also obtain the "non-license assets" of KETK -- the furniture and other property that is not essential to the production of a signal.

In addition, the Lafayette, La., firm has an option to buy the license assets of KETK -- including the transmitter and other signal-producing equipment -- for an additional $2 million.

The deal is expected to close during the second quarter and is subject to approval by the Justice Department.

Earlier this month, after reporting unexpected fourth-quarter losses, Sinclair said it was looking to sell some of its stations to focus on key markets. In recent years, Sinclair has been on an acquisition tear that has turned the company into one of the nation's largest broadcast organizations.

Sinclair has tried to obtain stations in middle-tier markets, and deemed Tyler-Longview as too small to fit the company's portfolio.

"This agreement marks the first step in our program of de-leveraging our balance sheet," said David D. Smith, Sinclair's chairman, president and chief executive officer, in a statement. "While the decision to sell these properties was a difficult one, ultimately the need to refocus our company on its core assets and re-establish our capacity for long-term growth was paramount."

Sinclair's stock lost 43.75 cents yesterday, closing at $14.8125.

Pub Date: 2/27/99

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