Sinclair keeping 3 stations

Deal terminated for TV properties in Illinois and Iowa

March 16, 2000|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. pulled the plug yesterday on a plan to sell three Midwestern television stations for $81 million.

Cockeysville-based Sinclair acquired the three stations -- WICS-TV of Springfield, Ill.; WICD-TV of Champaign, Ill.; and KGAN-TV of Cedar Rapids, Iowa -- during the summer as part of a $310 million transaction with Guy Gannett Communications.

In July, Sinclair entered into an agreement to sell the assets of the three stations to Sunrise Television Corp. of St. Petersburg, Fla.

The sale was conditioned on the receipt of Justice Department approvals necessary for Sunrise to acquire the three stations by today.

"We knew that they weren't going to get approval by [today], so we terminated the agreement," said Lucy Rutishauser, assistant treasurer of Sinclair.

The Justice Department was concerned about competition in the markets.

Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Inc., a Dallas-based investment company, has interests in Sunrise and Lin Television Inc., which also operates stations in those markets.

Sinclair agreed to purchase the stations from Guy Gannett amid a relatively strong television market. It put the three stations up for sale last year as part of a $500 million divestiture program to get its balance sheet in order.

Rutishauser said the balance-sheet problem was solved with December's $795.5 million sale of 46 of the 52 radio stations in Sinclair's radio group.

She said Sinclair will continue to operate the three TV stations and has no intention of selling them.

Sinclair owns or operates 61 TV stations in 40 markets throughout the country.

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