Sinclair swaps affiliates to grow local TV footprint


Michelle Clancy

| 03 October 2015

Sinclair Broadcast is buying the CBS TV affiliate in South Bend-Elkhart, Indiana, in the US.

The acquisition of WSBT, which is owned by Schurz Communications, will dovetail with Sinclair’s sale of WLUC (an NBC and FOX affiliate) in Marquette, Michigan, to Gray Television. As a result of the swap, Sinclair's television group will reach 37.6% of US television households. The South Bend-Elkhart DMA is approximately four times larger than the Marquette DMA in terms of television households.

The transaction is also expected to be accretive to average annual cash flows by approximately $1.0 million after synergies.

Greater scale means greater leverage, of course. The expansion news comes on the heels on an acrimonious retrans row between Sinclair Broadcast and DISH Network, which took an unexpected positive step in August with the resumption of negotiations and TV services. That impasse had threated the largest TV blackout ever for DISH subscribers.