Sinclair Ups Stock Buyback, Offers To Alter TV LMAs/SSAs To Get FCC OK For Allbritton Purchase
March 20, 2014 at 3:53 PM (PT)
SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP's Board of Directors has approved a $150 million share buyback authorization to be activated once the existing share repurchase authorization is exhausted. The existing plan, announced FEBRUARY 14th, has about $47 million remaining.
The company also has informed the FCC that it is willing to restructure its shared services agreements to conform to the FCC's concerns about such deals and pave the way for approval of its purchase of stations from ALLBRITTON COMMUNICATIONS by selling some of its stations to parties other than those originally proposed. The stations to be sold include CBS affiliate WHP-TV (CBS 21)/HARRISBURG, MY NETWORK TV affiliate WMMP-TV (MY TV CHARLESTON)/CHARLESTON, SC, and MY NETWORK TV affiliate WABM-TV (MY 68)/BIRMINGHAM. WHP and WABM were originally intended to be sold to DEERFIELD MEDIA and be operated by SINCLAIR, and WMMP was slated to be sold to HOWARD STIRK HOLDINGS and operated by SINCLAIR. SINCLAIR's existing operation of CUNNINGHAM BROADCASTING FOX affiliate WTAT-TV (FOX 24)/CHARLESTON, SC and NEXSTAR CW affiliate WLYH-TV (CW 15)/LEBANON-LANCASTER-HARRISBURG would also terminate. SINCLAIR is buying ABC affiliates in all three markets, WTPA-TV/HARRISBURG, WBMA-LD-WCFT-WJSU (ABC 33/40)/BIRMINGHAM, and WCIV-TV/CHARLESTON, from ALLBRITTON and will retain CW affiliate WTTO-TV/BIRMINGHAM.
SINCLAIR President/CEO DAVID SMITH said. "The proposed changes to the transaction will have an immaterial impact on SINCLAIR as a whole and on the ALLBRITTON transaction in particular. Although we believe the shared services arrangements that were contemplated would have provided significant public interest benefits, including promoting minority ownership of broadcast stations, even without such arrangements the ALLBRITTON transaction will result in significant upgrades for SINCLAIR in each of these three overlap markets. Moreover, these markets were always a very small part of the ALLBRITTON acquistion, which was driven to a much larger extent by their ABC affiliated station and 24-hour cable news channel in WASHINGTON, D.C. The stations to be sold were expected to contribute only approximately $21 million of pro forma EBITDA in 2014, and we expect to realize full value for the stations in a sale. In addition, the sale of these stations will only reduce the previously announced $21.5 million of operating synergies created in the ALLBRITTON transaction by $2 million."