Sinclair/Allbritton Breakup Deadline Looms - Broadcasting & Cable

Sinclair/Allbritton Breakup Deadline Looms

No decision out of D.C. by end of month allows either side to pull out
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The FCC and Justice Department have until July 27 to decide on whether or not to approve Sinclair's purchase of Allbritton's TV stations or either side will be able to back out of the deal.

Sinclair will not have to pay a break-up fee, according to a source familiar with the deal speaking on background.

Sinclair has restructured the deal, including surrendering three stations licenses, to try to make it more palatable to the FCC, which is clamping down on deals involving sharing agreements with associated financial arrangements such as the same lender or purchase options.

"Sinclair is concerned that the process for review of applications which propose combinations of sharing arrangements and contingent financial interests...would result in undue further delays to processing of the applications and may result in the parties being unable to consummate the proposed transactions by the [July 27] outside date," the company told the commission back in March when it proposed the restructuring.

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 319 of the review.

Sinclair announced July 29, 2013, that it had made a $985 billion offer 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, say broadcasters, and the chairman has signaled those deals could take extra time to vet.

An Allbritton source speaking on background said they fully expect the FCC to act in a "timely" fashion.

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