Sinclair Eyes 'Overlay Network' for Dayparts of National Footprint

At Media Institute lunch, CEO Ripley boosts ATSC 3.0 value, laments regulation
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Sinclair Broadcasting Group is developing an "overlay network" to supplement the programming its affiliated stations air—especially in daypart segments, which now carry a variety of syndicated programming.

"We don't envision creating a new network to compete" with existing networks, Sinclair president and CEO Christopher Ripley said during a presentation to the Media Institute's monthly luncheon in Washington on Tuesday, June 20. He described the "overlay" as a "supplement to enhance existing networks we already carry."

Related: Fast-Forwarding to the Future of Broadcasting

Ripley also emphasized Sinclair's "keen focus" on local news, which he called "the most dependable part of our business…a jewel." He said that a major part of the $40 million investment Sinclair made after acquiring Fisher Communications' 20 stations and Allbritton Communications' seven stations in 2013 went into bolstering local news capabilities.

He also hinted at visions for expanding Sinclair's "Comet," "Charge! and "TBD" secondary network transmissions, which now consist almost entirely of library content.

Ripley said he "expects to" add more original programming after the Tribune Media deal closes, noting that "Sinclair will be more vertically integrated."

As for the current pending purchase of Tribune Media, Ripley said he expects the merger to be completed by the end of the year after federal approvals. He used the deal as an example of broadcasting's relatively small role in the communications ecosystem.