“Sinclair Broadcast Group is selling WGN-TV to a Maryland auto dealer but would remain in control of the station in what critics say is a bid to skirt ownership limits and win federal regulatory approval for its proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media,” The Chicago Tribune reports.
“That means ‘Terrorism Alert Desk’ and other programming staples of politically conservative Sinclair may yet be headed to Chicago’s airwaves,” the story reports. “Under the terms of the $60 million station sale, filed Wednesday with the Federal Communications Commission, Sinclair would provide everything from programming to advertising sales to the buyer, essentially running WGN-Ch. 9 through a services agreement.”
The report notes that the licensee of WGN would be a new company headed by Steven Fader, who is reportedly a longtime business partner of Sinclair Executive Chairman David Smith.
“Sinclair will have an option to buy back the station for the same price, subject to adjustments, within eight years,” the article reports, adding: “The services agreement puts Sinclair in charge of advertising sales and gives it the right to provide local news and other programming to WGN. Sinclair would keep 30 percent of all ad sales and receive a $5.4 million monthly service fee for operating the station during the first year, with annual increases and performance bonuses.”
Fader is reportedly the CEO of Atlantic Automotive Corp., a Towson, Md.-based auto dealership group. The Tribune cites Sinclair financial statements indicating that Smith holds a controlling interest in the dealership group.