FCC Approves Sinclair-Bonten Deal

Commission will allow continued satellite exemption from duopoly rules

Sinclair Broadcast Group has added seven stations to its growing group.

The FCC Friday granted the transfer of seven full-power stations from Bonten Media Group to Sinclair and granted Sinclair's request that KCFW Kalispell, Mont., continue to operate as a satellite of KECI Missoula, Mont., under the satellite exception to the duopoly prohibition in smaller markets (ones without eight independent voices).

"Given that KCFW is the only full power television station in its community of license, is located in a community of license with limited economic viability, and is costly to operate as a stand-alone station, it is unlikely that an alternative operator would be willing and able to purchase or operate the station as a stand-alone facility," the FCC said in retaining the satellite exemption.

The transfer of that was unopposed.

The stations changing hands—in addition to KCFW and KECI—are KTXS Sweetwater, Texas; WCYB Bristol, Va.; KAEF Arcata, Calif.; KRCR Redding, Calif.; and KTVM Butte, Mont.

Sinclair has also sought continuing satellite duopoly waiviers in its proposed purchase of Tribune stations. Sinclair has signaled in that deal that it will apply to spin off stations where they would result in duopolies in violation of small-market limits, then file amendments if the FCC in the intervening period loosens small-market duopoly rules.