Exclusive: Sinclair's Smith, Fox Affils Board Chairman Pruett Plan Station Group Launch
Focus on smaller markets for two major figures in Fox affiliate community
By Michael Malone -- Broadcasting & Cable, 1/18/2013 12:32:00 PM
The principals in the new venture, which is as yet untitled, seek to launch in the coming months with at least 20 stations. Smith called talk of the new venture "rank speculation." He would not comment further, citing his role in a publicly traded company. Pruett, who is the Fox affiliates board chairman, could not be reached for comment. The Barrington station group is on the block and is believed to have attracted the interest of the new venture. Barrington's executives could not be reached for comment.
The CCA stations are also being shopped. CCA owns or operates 25 stations, in Texas, Louisiana and Evansville, Ind., and their market size and affiliate mix could make them a fit for the new group.
A quartet of Cox stations may also be on the startup principals' wish list. A Cox executive would not comment.
The planned group would operate separately from Sinclair, though the stations would conceivably share some of the efficiencies of the group. Sinclair has added stations formerly owned by Four Points Media, Freedom Broadcasting and Newport Television, among others, in the past 16 months to now own or operate 87 stations in 47 markets -- reaching 27.1% of U.S. households.
Silver Point is the majority owner of CCA and recently tapped a banking firm to explore strategic alternatives. The stations include KDBC El Paso and WGMB Baton Rouge.
Media mogul Bob Pittman's Pilot Group is behind Barrington and is eager to cash out, according to multiple sources. Stations include WEYI Flint, KXRM Colorado Springs and WNWO Toledo.
Cox put four stations on the block, including KFOX El Paso and KRXI Reno, after it acquired four from Newport TV last year.
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