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FCC Approves Sales of Allbritton to Sinclair


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Being from DC, I grew up with WJLA. So this bothers me. Not necessarily that it is the evil Sinclair, but that WJLA is going to continue the downward spiral of not being local. WRC is the top station in DC for a reason. Solid ownership (NBC), solid anchors (Jim and Doreen have been there pretty much forever), and there is a local vibe to the newscast. I fear that WJLA will be another cookie cutter station, with random talent and not really be the solid 2nd place station they worked so hard to be. I am used to what I have seen from WBFF/WNUV, and if that is what is coming - then WRC might as well sit pretty at the top, to be honest. I really hope the amazing talent at WJLA jumps ship soon, and that the Legends, Hill/Buynan/Peterson retire now, because I think it would be an insult to get a pay cut. Either retire or, of course, jump ship.

 

So long WJLA, its been a great ride.

 

You already know it going to be cookie cutter, conservative spin central, those veteran talents will leave or be force out to leave. WJLA fought a tought fight to get out of third place to move to second. Here hoping for a come back to WUSA 9. As for Birmingham market can they just use ABC 33 and dropped the 40. Yes they owned the other two stations, but branding is everything and the folks in Birmingham that watch the ABC affiliate, there going to be many changes. FOX 6 & WAIT 42 could fight for the audience while 13 & ABC XX pick up scraps.

 

Here Sinclair News for the day from Newsblues.com 7.25.2014

 

SALE APPROVED

allbritton-sinclair.jpgNearly a year after it was first proposed, and 327 days after an investigation was opened, the FCC has approved the $985 million deal between Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. and Allbritton Communications Co. Kinda. Sorta.

Sinclair will acquire eight licensed TV stations and a cable news channel. But, in exchange for FCC approval, it has agreed to sell two of the stations and hand over the broadcast licenses for three others.

After the deal closes on August 1, Sinclair will sell Allbritton's WHTM-27-ABC in Harrisburg (Market #43) to Media General for $83.4 million. The sale will eliminate an ownership conflict with Sinclair's WHP-21-CBS and Nexstar's WLYH-15-CW, which Sinclair operates via a local marking agreement.

wciv-wtat.jpgAnd in Charleston, SC (Market #95), Sinclair has agreed to surrender the broadcast license for Allbritton's WCIV-4-ABC. The station's ABC affiliation is then expected to be transferred to Sinclair's WMMP-36-MyTV.

Sinclair beard, Cunningham Communications, will take full control of WTAT-24-Fox in Charleston, which Sinclair has been operating via a local marketing agreement with co-located WMMP-36-MyTV. Sinclair says (wink, wink) the station will now stand alone. The sale price for WTAT is $14 million.

wcft-wjsu.jpgIn Birmingham (Market #44), Sinclair will acquire Allbritton's low-power WBMA-33-ABC, which is broadcast locally on Allbritton sister-stations WCFT-33-ABC/WJSU-40-ABC, known locally as "ABC 33/40." As part of its deal with the FCC, Sinclair has agreed to return the WCFT/WJSU broadcast licenses for cancellation. The ABC affiliation for the stations will be transferred to either Sinclair's WABM-68-MyTV or WTTO-21-CW, the two stations it already owns in Birmingham.

NewsBlues has learned that Sinclair officials met with station staffers in Birmingham last week to discuss employee "benefits," which, we are told, are not equal to the benefits package they received as employees of Allbritton.

"Morale is in the tank," an ABC 33/40 staffer told us. "Now, everyone’s waiting to see what jobs are going to be eliminated due to duplication. Either way, 33/40’s days are numbered. Will it be 'ABC 21' or 'ABC 68'? No one here knows yet."

wjla.jpgDespite all the hoops it had to leap through, Sinclair will acquire the jewels in the Allbritton crown: WJLA-7-ABC and sister-channel Newschannel 8 Cable News. Both are located in Arlington, VA and both serve the lucrative Washington, DC media market (DMA #8). The station newsrooms are co-located with Politico, which Allbritton will retain, and will likely move.

Sinclair will also acquire KATV-7-ABC in Little Rock (Market #56), KTUL-8-ABC in Tulsa (Market #60), and WSET-13-ABC in Lynchburg, VA (Market #66).

To finance the purchase, Sinclair floated $550 million in unsecured loans at 5.625%.

The sale will end the Allbritton family’s nearly four decades in the broadcasting business. "It’s going to be a good business for a while to come," said Robert Allbritton of his soon-to-be-former TV station group. "But. man, I’m 45 and I don’t know if it’s going to be a good business for the rest of my life."

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I've already said my peace about the clueless writer for NewsBlues who is apparently intent on causing FUD.

 

Nor can you compare the relocation of WCIV and WBMA+ onto a multicast arrangement with existing S!nclair stations to the outright shutdowns of CHCA Red Deer and CKX-TV Brandon. Those closedowns in Canada erased those stations from memory, with no replacements whatsoever. And they were done by massive conglomerates in CanWest Global and BellMedia, respectively, who only wanted to save a quick buck.

 

As for the unloading of Allbritton, it didn't matter who the buyer was... The notion of a locally owned, family run media company was going to leave the DC media landscape for good.

 

Say what you will about S!nclair, but it still is a family run company about 40 minutes to the northeast in Hunt Valley. But it won't truly be the same.

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I've already said my peace about the clueless writer for NewsBlues who is apparently intent on causing FUD.

 

Nor can you compare the relocation of WCIV and WBMA+ onto a multicast arrangement with existing S!nclair stations to the outright shutdowns of CHCA Red Deer and CKX-TV Brandon. Those closedowns in Canada erased those stations from memory, with no replacements whatsoever. And they were done by massive conglomerates in CanWest Global and BellMedia, respectively, who only wanted to save a quick buck.

 

As for the unloading of Allbritton, it didn't matter who the buyer was... The notion of a locally owned, family run media company was going to leave the DC media landscape for good.

 

Say what you will about S!nclair, but it still is a family run company about 40 minutes to the northeast in Hunt Valley. But it won't truly be the same.

 

True, but people on this board fail to do their homework and just blindly latch on to the popular opinion that Sinclair is this inherently bad company.

 

They've definitely made mistakes in the past, sure (NewsCentral). But that doesn't mean that it's exactly the way it's going to be down the road.

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You already know it going to be cookie cutter, conservative spin central, those veteran talents will leave or be force out to leave. WJLA fought a tought fight to get out of third place to move to second. Here hoping for a come back to WUSA 9.

 

As I said earlier, I will buck popular opinion on this board and will predict that the ratings books in the DC market won't change that much, if at all.

 

It is a foregone conclusion that Maureen Bunyan and Gordon Peterson will retire at some point. Both have had long, lengthy careers and can retire by their own volition. From there, WJLA has a few options. Maybe one of their 10 weatherpeople can transition into news, which isn't that inconceivable. Plus S!nclair didn't hire Kai Jackson away from WJZ just to be a reporter.

 

W*USA has been a mess since WJLA poached Bunyan and Peterson, and JC Hayward had her controversial "indefinite leave" departure. Their road back to second place is going to be a long one. An ace in their sleeve could be if Gannett were to transfer Russ Mitchell from WKYC to a like position at W*USA, which would rock the DC media and give the station a shot in the arm. But Russ really seems to like being in Cleveland.

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Being from DC, I grew up with WJLA. So this bothers me. Not necessarily that it is the evil Sinclair, but that WJLA is going to continue the downward spiral of not being local. WRC is the top station in DC for a reason. Solid ownership (NBC), solid anchors (Jim and Doreen have been there pretty much forever), and there is a local vibe to the newscast. I fear that WJLA will be another cookie cutter station, with random talent and not really be the solid 2nd place station they worked so hard to be. I am used to what I have seen from WBFF/WNUV, and if that is what is coming - then WRC might as well sit pretty at the top, to be honest. I really hope the amazing talent at WJLA jumps ship soon, and that the Legends, Hill/Buynan/Peterson retire now, because I think it would be an insult to get a pay cut. Either retire or, of course, jump ship.

 

So long WJLA, its been a great ride.

 

I liked watching WJLA when I travel to DC as well (I watched that one and WRC). But I have the same fears you do (as well as the fear they'll fixate more on making NC8 national and neglect stations like WJLA), which would be sad because WJLA has been a formidible opponent in recent years. Hopefully Myron is right and not much will change, I guess we'll all just wait and see.

 

This is new territory for Sinclair as they're now in a market with O&O's with deep pockets, going the cheap route won't work here. And if there are big staff cuts, Gannett would be stupid to not try and take advantage of that to help get them back in the running again.

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Would any of you want me to deliver a congratulatory Edible Arrangement fruit basket? I would say crab cakes but I'm allergic. I'm driving by there today.

 

I know it's early and that they haven't even closed yet but is there any time frame of WJLA moving out of Albrittom or is it off in the distance and continue to lease? I will say if they want NC8 to go National they better find a studio in the heart of Washington. Arlington is a bit out of the way.

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Would any of you want me to deliver a congratulatory Edible Arrangement fruit basket? I would say crab cakes but I'm allergic. I'm driving by there today.

 

I know it's early and that they haven't even closed yet but is there any time frame of WJLA moving out of Albrittom or is it off I'm the distance and continue to lease? I will say if they want NC8 to go National they better find a studio in the heart of Washington. Arlington is a bit out of the way.

WJLA has a long-term lease at the Rosslyn facility. One that I would believe S!nclair would honor.
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Regarding Birmingham, I think WBRC has to be in glee right now, as they are the only station not in ownership flux (or coming out of it). Either WIAT or WVTM must be sold (and not to Sinclair) as well. That said, the new (non-Media General) owner might decide to put a ton of effort into their new acquisition - we shall see.

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So will Politico move or will they just share the space?

 

According to Newsblues : The station newsrooms are co-located with Politico, which Allbritton will retain, and will likely move. I would think they would move and let Sinclair operate the operations at the current home, or they could keep them in the building and they pay the rent space for their portion on the building. Anything is possible...

 

 

 

As I said earlier, I will buck popular opinion on this board and will predict that the ratings books in the DC market won't change that much, if at all.

 

It is a foregone conclusion that Maureen Bunyan and Gordon Peterson will retire at some point. Both have had long, lengthy careers and can retire by their own volition. From there, WJLA has a few options. Maybe one of their 10 weatherpeople can transition into news, which isn't that inconceivable. Plus S!nclair didn't hire Kai Jackson away from WJZ just to be a reporter.

 

W*USA has been a mess since WJLA poached Bunyan and Peterson, and JC Hayward had her controversial "indefinite leave" departure. Their road back to second place is going to be a long one. An ace in their sleeve could be if Gannett were to transfer Russ Mitchell from WKYC to a like position at W*USA, which would rock the DC media and give the station a shot in the arm. But Russ really seems to like being in Cleveland.

 

I take it you would remove Derek McGinty ( who a local guy) and replace him with Russ Mitchell which could be interesting. Once Maureen, Gordon exit Kai probably going to replace Leon. Kai and Alison could be the face of Channel 7. We know Gannett have made cuts left and right and WUSA once stellar operation has lost it luster, but as the one poster said you can't do cheap and cookie cutter in D.C.

 

 

 

True, but people on this board fail to do their homework and just blindly latch on to the popular opinion that Sinclair is this inherently bad company.

 

They've definitely made mistakes in the past, sure (NewsCentral). But that doesn't mean that it's exactly the way it's going to be down the road.

 

I'm sure Sinclair probably not a bad company, but all their tomfoolery has spoken voulmes with me and seeing them in this market. My hope and goal is to give them the benefit of the doubt as a company. Yes business is to make $$$ and that understood, but they cleary want world domination to buy up every tv station if they could. Next year there will be another company that will exit and they will be right there swooping in. I think they could be a passable company if they weren't out here trying to gobble up 500 station at a time. Somebody has to sit back and say enough is enough, and the tomfoolery has to stop, but we live for the foder that Sinclair loves to gives us.
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Here's the news from POLITICO, with a more detailed statement from Robert Allbritton.

 

They said it could close by next week (8/1), but I strongly doubt that will happen, since they'll likely close it out way earlier than that.

 

We were told, before the approval and we haven't heard anything to counter the claim yet, that our last day as Allbritton employees would be July 31, and our first day as Sinclair employees would be August 1.

 

With approval last night, $10 says the check gets delivered today.

 

Everybody's fearing all of these firings and you don't have to look further than KOMO. Yes, they laid some backend people off but for the most part maintained the status quo and they're finally getting a new set. WJLA is overdue for one as they've had the same one since moving to the old Gannett headquarters building in 2001. Dan Lewis, their star anchor, left and I think Sinclair and money may have played a part but I also think he was looking for a change. He still contributes pieces to KOMO. So that could very well be what happens here.

I've been led to believe that KOMO was in the red to begin with. They went through the recession without laying off anyone (from what I have been told), which seems unheard of when just about every other station in the nation did. Sinclair came in, found a number of either redundant or outdated positions - e.g. truck operators, and made cuts.

 

Sinclair has acquired a lot of stations recently. The vast majority of them have not seen layoffs.

 

Also, further risking alienation by defending Sinclair :awesome: , anyone who says that their benefits are worse than Allbritton's is either lying or is just stupid. The ONE area Allbritton has them beat is on the 401K match, as it's a guaranteed match, whereas Sinclair may or may not match, depending on how the BoD feels, but I am fairly certain my health, vision and dental are all going down (with generally equal plans). Vacation is the same, I think personal days & sick time is the same, and I believe holidays are the same.

 

With all that said, who knows what the future holds. I've lived through sales before, though. I'll live through this one. Is the life I've chosen, I guess.

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Hate to be off-topic on this thread, about the $985 million deal between Sinclair and Allbritton, it is by far the highest-record price for a station or station group in history, surpassing Young Broadcasting's purchase of KRON-TV in 2000 for $850 million. Let's hope I'm wrong about this fact.

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There are two bright sides to Sinclair taking over ABC 33/40, or whatever it will be called in the future.....

 

- Sinclair's current graphic look (the new one) will look a million times better than Allbritton's current package. I'm just worried that if the branding changes, what logo Sinclair may pop out. Their track record on logos they've commissioned themselves hasn't been that great, especially with WXLV and the new WNWO logo. The ones for WKEF/WRGT, WLOS and WCHS are tolerable.

 

- Bring on a Devlin set!!!! Their current set has to be the cheapest piece of set I've ever seen. It looks like it's made out of cardboard and plywood (and probably is). Now that they have two less transmitters to run, hopefully that money goes back in to their operating budget and they can put it towards their on-air product a little more.

 

As I've said numerous times before, as long as they don't mess with James Spann, they'll be fine.

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Hate to be off-topic on this thread, about the $985 million deal between Sinclair and Allbritton, it is by far the highest-record price for a station or station group in history, surpassing Young Broadcasting's purchase of KRON-TV in 2000 for $850 million. Let's hope I'm wrong about this fact.

The Tribune purchase of Local TV LLC was $2.7 billion (likely inflated since Tribune wanted to be sure to outbid Sinclair, who was very interested in them).
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There are two bright sides to Sinclair taking over ABC 33/40, or whatever it will be called in the future.....

 

- Sinclair's current graphic look (the new one) will look a million times better than Allbritton's current package. I'm just worried that if the branding changes, what logo Sinclair may pop out. Their track record on logos they've commissioned themselves hasn't been that great, especially with WXLV and the new WNWO logo. The ones for WKEF/WRGT, WLOS and WCHS are tolerable.

 

- Bring on a Devlin set!!!! Their current set has to be the cheapest piece of set I've ever seen. It looks like it's made out of cardboard and plywood (and probably is). Now that they have two less transmitters to run, hopefully that money goes back in to their operating budget and they can put it towards their on-air product a little more.

 

As I've said numerous times before, as long as they don't mess with James Spann, they'll be fine.

 

My sentiments exactly.

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There are two bright sides to Sinclair taking over ABC 33/40, or whatever it will be called in the future.....

 

- Sinclair's current graphic look (the new one) will look a million times better than Allbritton's current package. I'm just worried that if the branding changes, what logo Sinclair may pop out. Their track record on logos they've commissioned themselves hasn't been that great, especially with WXLV and the new WNWO logo. The ones for WKEF/WRGT, WLOS and WCHS are tolerable.

 

- Bring on a Devlin set!!!! Their current set has to be the cheapest piece of set I've ever seen. It looks like it's made out of cardboard and plywood (and probably is). Now that they have two less transmitters to run, hopefully that money goes back in to their operating budget and they can put it towards their on-air product a little more.

 

As I've said numerous times before, as long as they don't mess with James Spann, they'll be fine.

 

Same for ABC News 4!
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After thinking about this for a few days, I'm actually leaning towards thinking this might not be as bad as it sounded a month ago, especially at ABC 33/40. Of course, I still have concerns, especially with regards to eastern Alabama.

 

Not looking good:

  • One month ago, I posted that, with regards to over-the-air terrestrial service, East Alabama will "truly get the shaft" if this deal was approved. I still stand by that; shutting down WJSU will pretty much deprive Anniston, Gadsden, and points east of any over-the-air ABC service. Of course, how much the shutdown will hurt depends on what Sinclair does with WABM. If they move ABC programming over to 68.1, then my concerns are largely moot. If ABC programming is moved to 68.2, that could be a problem, as I discuss below.

I'm not sure about/don't care about:

  • Don't really care: Sinclair's political leanings. I would be concerned, but this is Alabama we're talking about. Ratings shouldn't be affected if they air occasional gun specials or anti-PPACA programs on post-acquisition WBMA-LD and WABM.
  • Not sure: .1 vs .2? If WABM-DT airs ABC programming on 68.1, I wouldn't be too concerned about cable/satellite/U-verse coverage. If they shove ABC onto 68.2, that will create significant problems for some cable viewers and almost all satellite and U-verse customers, as DBS and IPTV services like U-verse don't allow subchannels, while cable companies shove subchannels into the 100+ tier of the program guide.
  • Don't really care: Staff members. I would imagine that most will simply move over to WABM, but I wouldn't be surprised if others opt to leave. Also, James Spann isn't retiring: at a seminar at the University of Georgia earlier this year, he said that he's got about "ten years left", so I wouldn't be concerned about retirement unless he's forced into it, which Sinclair wouldn't even think of doing.
  • Not sure: Technology. In any other situation, Sinclair would be praised for how it invests in tech and engineering for its stations (remember WSYX and its army of LiveU backpacks? DVB-T2 trials?). This, however, is ABC 33/40. They have been fairly innovative from the start (case in point: their unique transmitting arrangement), and their use of social media, iPads, and camera networks is nothing short of amazing, especially for weather coverage. Sinclair may keep the technology as is, or they may gut it in an attempt to cut costs. Who knows?

Looking good:

  • Presentation. The 2014 Sinclair graphics, while not perfect, are better than the slapped together 3D mess ABC 33/40 currently has. The music has me conflicted. I don't know what Sinclair was thinking with their "new" SFX, and News One has been a staple at the station since its inception, but it's almost 20 years old at this point. Of course, music shouldn't be judged by age (case in point: WPVI and WJZ,) so who knows. Other than that, the Sinclair look will be a step up from what they currently have.
  • The set. Let's face it, Allbritton treated its stations and staffers well...except for sets and graphics. I've seen high school and college sets that are better than what ABC 33/40 has right now. They only way Sinclair could screw that up is if they make WABM broadcast out of a broom closet, which they won't do.

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Depending on if Sinclair owns their property and Allbritton leases their space could play a role in things at least for now. 33/40 is the only Birmingham station that is NOT on Red Mountain....they're in Hoover. But WTTO/WABM is on Red Mountain. That will stay put most likely since it has the uplink facility for WTTO and WABM, and if 33/40 lacks the space for the added people being absorbed, they'll stay put too.

 

Another little fun fact.....WBMA-LD is on Channel 40 (where WJSU was broadcasting on Channel 9). All Sinclair needs to do is put the ABC feed on PSIP channel 33 (on WABM or WDBB), and the branding can stay put.

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  • The set. Let's face it, Allbritton treated its stations and staffers well...except for sets and graphics. I've seen high school and college sets that are better than what ABC 33/40 has right now. The only way Sinclair could screw that up is if they make WABM broadcast out of a broom closet, which they won't do.

 

 

LMBO!!!! Too funny!!!
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Depending on if Sinclair owns their property and Allbritton leases their space could play a role in things at least for now. 33/40 is the only Birmingham station that is NOT on Red Mountain....they're in Hoover. But WTTO/WABM is on Red Mountain. That will stay put most likely since it has the uplink facility for WTTO and WABM, and if 33/40 lacks the space for the added people being absorbed, they'll stay put too.

 

Another little fun fact.....WBMA-LD is on Channel 40. All Sinclair needs to do is put the ABC feed on PSIP channel 33 (on WABM or WDBB), and the branding can stay put.

 

PSIP are assigned to stations. They would need to get permission from the FCC to make that change. Branding a station doesn't necessarily need the channel that they are on to coincide with it. Look at KNSD in San Diego (NBC 7 PSIP 39 RF 40). Simply put, ABC 33/40 could land on PSIP 68 RF 36, ABC News 4 could land on PSIP 36 RF 36.
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PSIP are assigned to stations. They would need to get permission from the FCC to make that change. Branding a station doesn't necessarily need the channel that they are on to coincide with it. Look at KNSD in San Diego (NBC 7 PSIP 39 RF 40). Simply put, ABC 33/40 could land on PSIP 68 RF 36, ABC News 4 could land on PSIP 36 RF 36.

 

It wouldn't be impossible for Sinclair to map WMMP's MyTV stream to 36.1 and then the ABC stream to 4.1, or to have the ABC streams of WDBB and WABM map to 58.1 (or even 33.1).

 

Some stations have "consolidated PSIP", meaning that two physical channels share a PSIP number. For instance, KSTP and KSTC both have 5.x subchannels. KUIL's PSIP positions are 12.5 and 12.6. There is even a station in Monterrey, Mexico, that does this with its digital signal!

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  • Not sure: .1 vs .2? If WABM-DT airs ABC programming on 68.1, I wouldn't be too concerned about cable/satellite/U-verse coverage. If they shove ABC onto 68.2, that will create significant problems for some cable viewers and almost all satellite and U-verse customers, as DBS and IPTV services like U-verse don't allow subchannels, while cable companies shove subchannels into the 100+ tier of the program guide.

 

If they stick ABC on a .2 channel in a top 50 market, ABC will soon find a home on WUOA-23 I suspect.

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