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DOJ/Sinclair Settle on Allbritton Deal

Sinclair's deal to buy Allbritton for $986 million is a step closer to approval after the Justice Depatrment said it was OK with the deal so long as Sinclair sells Allbritton's ABC affiliate WHTM Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, which Sinclair plans to do.

Actually, DOJ filed suit against the deal and then filed the settlement with the court, which is the way such negotiated settlements are handled.

Once a judge signs off on the deal, the FCC is expected to do the same—they usually coordinated their reviews—and by the July 27 deadline after which either side could back out of the deal.

Sinclair will have 90 days after a judge approves the settlement to sell the station, and in the meantime has agreed not to have any influence over the station.

Sinclair announced June 23 that Media General would acquire WHTM for $83.4 million.

The FCC accepted Sinclair's transfer applications for the licenses back in August 2013, and the FCC's unofficial 180-day shot clock—which can be stopped and started—shows it at day 320 of the review.

Sinclair announced July 29, 2013, that it had struck a deal for Allbritton's TV stations, including WJLA Washington, and its NewsChannel 8 regional cable news net. At the time, the deal was expected to close by the fourth quarter, but the FCC under Chairman Tom Wheeler has been going over deals involving sharing arrangements with a fine-tooth-comb and signaled they would take extra time to vet.

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.