Sinclair Broadcasting Group has announced that they intend to sell twenty-three local stations in an effort to bolster its bid for Tribune Media Company. Sinclair’s acquisition of Tribune is still going through the regulatory approval process.
Some of the stations are currently owned by Sinclair while others are currently owned by Tribune. The stations are in a variety of states and markets, from Des Moines to Chicago. The buyers include Standard Media, Howard Stirk, Cunningham, and Meredith.
Cunningham Broadcasting is owned by the estate of the mother of Sinclair chairman David Smith.
One notable station for sale is WGN (which is currently owned by Tribune) which will be spun off upon the acquisition of Tribune. The sale is a bit of a red herring, however. The station is being sold to WGN-TV, LLC whose ownership could not be found but the Chicago Tribune reported last month that Sinclair planned to sell WGN to a business partner of Smith. Under the deal that Sinclair announced on Tuesday, the company will still operate WGN so it will not truly be breaking free from Sinclair.
“After a very robust divestiture process, with strong interest from many parties, we have achieved healthy multiples on the stations we are divesting,” Chris Ripley, Sinclair president and CEO, said in a statement. “While we continue to believe that we had a strong and supportable rationale for not having to divest stations, we are happy to announce this significant step forward in our plan to create a leading broadcast platform with local focus and national reach. The combined company will continue to advance industry technology, including the Next Generation Broadcast Platform, and to benefit from significant revenue and expense synergies.”