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Sinclair To Acquire New Age Stations

Sinclair Broadcast Group has agreed to acquire the New Age station group for $90 million. The eight stations include WOLF-WQMY-WSWB Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, WTLH-WTLF Tallahassee, and WGFL-WNBW-WMYG Gainesville.

The deal is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close late in the fourth quarter.

To comply with FCC ownership rules, Sinclair expects to sell the license and certain related assets of WSWB Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, WTLH Tallahassee and WNBW Gainesville to Cunningham Broadcasting Corporation, and WTLF to Deerfield Media, which Sinclair also has an operating relationship with.

Sinclair will continue to provide sales and other non-programming support services to these stations, as well as to WTLH, pursuant to shared services and joint sales agreements.

"We are excited to be adding the New Age stations to our portfolio, growing our presence in Pennsylvania and Florida, and further diversifying our affiliation mix," commented David Smith, president and CEO of Sinclair. "Through each acquisition we continue to capture operating efficiencies and scale, as well as increase our cash flow for ongoing opportunities."

The deal comes on the eve of the FCC’s planned vote to eliminate the UHF discount, which could take effect as early as Sept. 26, after which 100% of a UHF station’s audience would count toward the FCC’s 39% national audience reach cap—currently only 50% of the audience counts. Sinclair will be butting up against that cap if the FCC approves its purchase of Allbritton’s TV stations.

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.