8:35 p.m.: Sinclair to purchase WTOV-TV

STEUBENVILLE Sinclair Broadcast Group is buying WTOV-TV and three sister stations from Cox Media Group for $99 million.

In announcing the definitive agreement, which includes services to a fifth station, the Maryland-based Sinclair said Monday the purchase price for the stock and broadcast assets is $99 million, though they expect to account for roughly $4.3 million of that in working capital adjustments.

“All of these media locations are valued brands with talented professionals who are committed to their audiences, advertisers and communities,” said CMG President Doug Franklin. “We wish all of the employees well and know they will continue to work hard to produce quality entertainment, news and information for their customers and new owners.”

The Sinclair sale includes Fox affiliates in El Paso and Reno, Nev., and a Johnstown, Pa., station which, like WTOV-TV, is an NBC affiliate. Due to FCC ownership restrictions, Sinclair will continue providing services to KAME in Reno that CMG has historically provided, though that station’s license assets will be purchased by Deerfield Media Inc.

Cox also recently sold its Southern Connecticut radio stations to Connoisseur, and its radio stations in Birmingham, Ala., Greenville, S.C., Hawaii, Louisville, Ky., and Richmond, Va., to Summit Media.

The sales are part of Cox Media’s strategy to focus on larger markets, cross-media collaboration and heightened impact in fewer markets. In addition to jettisoning the four small market stations, the Atlanta-based company added four new TV stations in Jacksonville, Fla., and Tulsa, Okla.

Cox Media said the sales are expected to close during the second quarter subject to regulatory approvals.

Sinclair President and CEO David Smith, meanwhile, said his company’s “platform size and leadership position allow us to bring meaningful purchasing power and negotiating leverage to these stations. Including synergies, we believe the CMG stations can generate approximately $20 million of cash flow, on average.”

“We have prided ourselves on being a forward-looking company with a history of creating innovative ways to unlock value for our shareholders,” he said in a release announcing the definitive agreement. “We have established Chesapeake TV as the primary operating entity for the CMG stations and other small market stations we may acquire, while (Sinclair Television Group) will continue to be our primary operating entity for mid-sized market stations. We believe a dual operating structure is critical to the success of a small market strategy since the economics and competitive nature can differ from those of the mid-sized markets.”

A call to WTOV-TV officials Wednesday evening was not immediately returned.