Sinclair Puts Cable News on Notice: It’s Putting Together a National News Channel

July 30, 2013  •  Post A Comment

Just a day after taking the wraps off its buyout of the Allbritton Television Stations, Sinclair Broadcast Group revealed ambitious plans for one piece of the acquisition. B&C reports that the company plans to take its newly acquired news channel national.

"David Smith, Sinclair president and CEO, said the main takeaway from Sinclair’s $985 million agreement to acquire Allbritton is the ‘strategic significance’ of the transaction — very definitely including Allbritton’s NewsChannel 8. The cable channel has 2 million subscribers in the D.C. area, and Smith — addressing investors July 30 — painted a picture of a vastly expanded national franchise," B&C reports.

Said Smith: "Because Allbritton has limited reach, the channel has yet to be fully developed outside the D.C. area. We believe we have a distinct opportunity to accomplish that."

Smith called the channel a "launching point" for a national news channel, the piece notes, with the executive talking about a "unique hybrid model" that would distribute the national channel both within the Sinclair group and on MVPD systems.

"Smith threw out a $300 million figure for incremental revenue garnered from the MVPDs for carriage, using CNN’s 57 cents a sub as a model," B&C reports.

Smith added: "The takeaway is we believe there is significant value we can unlock when we couple the cable channel with the rest of our news channels and roll it out to more than just D.C."

The piece adds: "Asked why a Sinclair news channel should get comparable fees to CNN, Smith went into a lengthy takedown of the national cable news nets (‘This is gonna shock you,’ he warned), reciting figures on early a.m. paid programming on his Fox affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, tripling the ratings of Fox News Channel primetime star Bill O’Reilly, with an even wider gap versus CNN’s prime. ‘If a brand is not delivering value, why should it get paid?’ he asked."

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