Sinclair Broadcast Group inks affiliation deal with FOX

Sinclair Broadcast Group has entered into an agreement with the FOX Broadcasting Company (FOX) for renewal of the affiliation agreements for 19 television stations Sinclair owns and/or programs, the broadcast group said May 15.

The new agreements go into effect Jan. 1, 2013, upon the expiration of the existing affiliation agreements and expire Dec. 31, 2017. KFXA-TV, the FOX affiliate in Cedar Rapids, IA, for which Sinclair provides certain nonprogramming related services, is also renewing its affiliation agreement for the same term.

The agreement calls for continuation of monthly programming fee payments at rates and increases consistent with the marketplace for FOX stations, SBG said.

It also provides SBG with an assignable option to purchase at fair value, Fox Television Stations (FTS) television station in Baltimore (WUTB/MNT) exercisable between July 1, 2012, and March 31, 2013.

Additionally, the agreement grants FTS an assignable option to purchase at fair value, Sinclair's stations in up to three of the following four television markets: Raleigh, NC (WRDC/MNT and WLFL/CW); Las Vegas (KVMY/MNT and KVCW/CW); Cincinnati (WSTR/MNT); and Norfolk, VA, (WTVZ/MNT) exercisable between July 1, 2012, and March 31, 2013.

Under the agreement, SBG will pay FOX a maximum of $52.7 million with the Baltimore option and affiliation. That amount decreases by $25 million if FOX exercises its option to purchase any of the SBG stations on which it has an option.

"For us, a pivotal aspect of the agreement was securing our affiliation on WBFF-TV, our flagship station in Baltimore," said David Smith, CEO and president of Sinclair. "Our FOX affiliate in Baltimore is one of our most important television assets, and over the years the station has built a strong local brand. We believe that this affiliation was at risk, and negotiated with Fox to acquire the option to purchase FTS' station, WUTB, in Baltimore in hopes that acquiring this station would solidify WBFF's position as a FOX affiliate in Baltimore in the long term."