Monday, July 29, 2013

Sinclair, whose TV stations reach a lot of rural America, buys into D.C. and a cable news channel

Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns or manages with allied companies 149 U.S. television stations, mostly in small and medium-sized markets, is buying seven stations owned by Allbritton Communications, "including WJLA, the coveted ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C.," Brian Stelter reports for The New York Times. "Along with the seven stations, Sinclair will take control of NewsChannel 8, Allbritton’s local cable news channel in Washington. Sinclair said that it would explore the rollout of a national cable news channel using NewsChannel 8 as its core."

"The other six stations, all affiliates of ABC, are much smaller," Stelter notes. They are in Birmingham (the 42nd largest market), Harrisburg, Pa. (43rd), Little Rock (56th), Tulsa (59th), Roanoke (68th) and Charleston, S.C. (98th). Washington is the eighth largest market.

"With the addition of the Allbritton stations, Sinclair estimated that it would reach 38.2 percent of households in the United States. Public-interest groups might object to the deal, partly because it furthers a consolidation trend and partly because Sinclair’s newscasts have been accused in the past of showing bias toward Republican and conservative causes." (Read more) "Think of it as a mini-Fox News," which does some good work but has an ownership that is plainly biased, writes David Zurawik of The Baltimore Sun, in Sinclair's hometown. He also says talk of a cable news channel is premature.

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