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Sinclair to buy Allbritton TV stations for $985 million

Monday - 7/29/2013, 11:52am  ET

Jeff Clabaugh
Broadcast/Web Reporter
Washington Business Journal

Hunt Valley, Md.-based television station owner Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. will buy Allbritton Communications television stations for $985 million.

The deal includes WJLA Channel 7 and NewsChannel 8 in the Washington market.

The acquisitions will push Sinclair's annual revenue to nearly $1.9 billion, based on 2012 revenue at both companies. Sinclair (NASDAQ: SBGI) currently owns 149 television stations in 76 markets.

"To buy a full-blown news operation in our nation's capital and an infrastructure that allows us to be connected to our branches of government and be the pulse of national issues is a once-in-a-lifetime event," said Sinclair Chief Executive David Smith.

"We are especially excited to acquire the NewsChannel 8 local news channel," Smith added, "not only for the content it can provide our existing news stations, but moreover because their regional cable presence provides the perfect platform should we decide to expand it into other markets."

Other TV stations in the deal include network affiliates in Birmingham, Ala., Harrisburg, Penn., Little Rock, Ark., Roanoke, Va. and Charleston, S.C.

The acquisition is expected to close at the end of the fourth quarter.

Allbritton announced in May it would seek buyers for its television operations and expand Politico, as well as invest in new online properties. Industry experts predicted to the Washington Business Journal in May that Disney/ABC Television Group was the most likely buyer of WJLA Channel 7 if Allbritton was open to selling it separately from the company's other six stations.

Jeff Clabaugh covers general assignment and provides business coverage for WTOP.

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