Sinclair proposes to sell some TV stations ahead of FCC vote

March 20 Thu Mar 20, 2014 5:53pm EDT

March 20 (Reuters) - Sinclair Broadcast Group proposed on Thursday to sell some Allbritton TV stations it agreed to acquire in a deal last July to meet requirements of broadcasting regulators about companies sharing advertising and sales staff across competing stations.

Sinclair said in a statement that it will shed a station in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Charleston, South Carolina; and Birmingham, Alabama. It will also discontinue offering services to certain station affiliates in Charleston and Harrisburg.

Sinclair Chief Executive David Smith said the proposed changes will not have a material impact on Sinclair or on the Allbritton deal. The company agreed to buy eight TV stations from the Allbritton family, the publisher of Politico, for $985 million.

The stations to be sold were expected to contribute only about $21 million in pro forma earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization this year, Sinclair said.

Sinclair proposed the structure as the Federal Communications Commission readies to vote on March 31 on new rules that would prohibit broadcast companies form controlling more than two TV stations in a market by sharing advertising sales staff.

The new rules would count a broadcaster as having ownership interest in any stations where that owner sells 15 percent or more of advertising.

Sinclair struck a deal with Allbritton as a flurry of activity around local TV stations intensified. Last year, Gannett bought Belo Corp for $1.5 billion and Tribune Co bought Local TV Holdings for $2.7 billion. (Reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York; Editing by Grant McCool)