Sinclair to buy CBS TV station in Va.

June 25, 2008|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Sun reporter

Sinclair Broadcast Group plans to buy a CBS television station in the Richmond-Petersburg, Va., market for $85 million - the second TV station acquisition this year by the Hunt Valley broadcaster.

Sinclair said yesterday that it has agreed to buy the assets of WTVR-TV (CBS 6) from Raycom Media Inc., at a time when few opportunities exist for acquiring individual stations.

The broadcaster owns FOX affiliate WRLH-TV in that market, but will be required by Federal Communications Commission rules to sell the license to run the affiliate. After a planned sale to Carma Broadcasting LLC, Sinclair plans to enter into an outsourcing agreement with Carma that will enable the two broadcast companies to jointly manage the station. Sinclair said it will continue to provide WRLH-TV with sales and other nonprogramming services.

By owning a CBS license and managing the Fox affiliate, "We're able to create significant financial efficiencies," said David Amy, Sinclair's chief financial officer.

Sinclair last purchased a TV station in February, when it acquired the nonlicensed assets of KFXA-TV (FOX 28) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for $17.1 million in cash from Second Generation of Iowa Ltd.

While groups of TV stations have been offered for sale in large transactions, the individual station deals that Sinclair seeks have been harder to come by, Amy said.

"We look for opportunities where we can provide significant return to our shareholders, but they're hard to find," Amy said.

Because of that, the company stepped up its efforts last year to acquire and invest in commercial real estate in Maryland and elsewhere.

The latest acquisition came about after Raycom had bought three stations, including WTVR-TV (CBS 6), which it then needed to sell because it owned an NBC affiliate in the same market.

The addition of the CBS station will bring to 59 the number of stations that Sinclair owns, operates or provides with programming or sales services in 35 markets.

Both transactions are subject to FCC approval and are expected to close in the third quarter.

Sinclair shares closed yesterday at $7.90, down a penny.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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