Sinclair Poised To Buy Fox Sports Ohio, 20 Other Fox Regional Networks
Fox Sports Ohio soon could be owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, the nation's largest TV station owner and operator of WKRC-TV, WSTR-TV, WKEF-TV and WRGT-TV in Southwestern Ohio.
The Wall Street Journal says Sinclair will pay more than $10 billion to buy the 21 regional sports networks from Disney, which acquired the Fox sports networks when it bought 21st Century Fox. Disney – which owns ESPN – promised to sell off the Fox sports regionals to get government approval for taking control of the Fox movie and television assets.
The deal could be announced today.
"For Sinclair, which already is the nation’s biggest owner of local television stations, the acquisition would instantly make it a force in cable programming," the Journal says.
Sinclair, based near Baltimore, owns the Tennis Channel and part of the Stadium TV sports channel. The company also is starting a Chicago regional sports channel with the Cubs, the Journal says.
Fox Sports Ohio carries the Reds, Cleveland Cavaliers, Columbus Blue Jackets and college football and basketball. The Journal says: "Regional sports networks carry popular local sports, primarily basketball and baseball. They typically are among the most expensive channels for distributors and customers. As more pay-TV customers have cut the cord, regional sports networks have suffered the same audience erosion as the rest of the television business. Younger viewers, in particular, now seek out sports content online, where highlights are ubiquitous."
The Journal calls the purchase "a big win" for Sinclair, which failed to get government approval last year to buy Tribune Media's 42 television stations.
Sinclair also made headlines last year after requiring its news anchors in Cincinnati and several dozen markets to read a commentary complaining about "the sharing of biased and false news" by media outlets which "publish these same fabricated stories without checking facts first." The corporate-mandated script also said that "some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda, to control exactly what people think."