21st Century Fox is reportedly close to a deal to purchase as many as 10 TV stations from Sinclair Broadcast Group, a transaction that would help add to the programmer’s broadcast stable while providing some regulatory relief for Sinclair’s pending Tribune Media buy.
News of the deal was first reported by the Financial Times.
Fox is in the process of selling a large chunk of its programming assets to The Walt Disney Co. for $66.1 billion in stock and assumed debt. But the company, which will retain its Fox broadcast network, 28 Fox TV stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, sports channels FS1 and FS2 and Big Ten Network, has expressed a desire to add to its station holdings.
Sinclair, which is winding through the approval process for its $3.9 billion purchase of Tribune Media, will likely have to divest some stations to get a favorable nod from regulators. As it stands, the addition of Tribune’s 42 stations would give Sinclair control of 72% of TV homes across the country, an unprecedented level of dominance. While current regulations cap the reach of a single broadcast company at 39% of the TV homes in the U.S., there have been moves to relax that limit considerably or remove it all together.
Some the stations being considered by Fox include network affiliates in Seattle and Denver, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.