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Analyst: Ion’s Must-Carry Kills Potential Fox Deal

Ion Media has selected must-carry for its networks, according to Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker, who said the decision not to seek retransmission payments kills the chances of Ion making a deal with 21st Century Fox.

Fox and Ion had reportedly been considering putting their stations into a joint venture. The arrangement would have allowed Fox to own a bigger chunk of its affiliate base and collect more retransmission revenue.

A decision had to be made at the beginning of the month, but it had been unclear what Ion had decided. But in a note Friday, Ryvicker said the decision had been posted on the FCC’s public website and Ion had officially chosen “mandatory carriage” or must carry with all cable and satellite distributors.

“While Fox could still choose to do something with Ion, we don't see how this could work financially for the Fox networks or affiliated stations,” Ryvicker said.

The Ion deal was a threat to Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns a large number of Fox affiliates. 

“We continue to believe that Sinclair and Fox will enter into a fair affiliation renewal and transfer- hopefully sooner rather than later,” she said.