Sinclair Jumps from 6th to 3rd

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Sinclair's station buying spree is moving them up the ladder in the Top 30 ranking of TV station groups.

The company vaulted over three other major TV station groups to land in the No. 3 spot in TVNewsCheck/BIA Kelsey's annual Top 30 ranking of TV station groups.

The ranking is based on advertising revenue estimates for 2012 provided through an exclusive arrangement with BIA/Kelsey.

To land in the third position, the Baltimore behemoth — with 112 TV stations under its belt — catapulted over ABC/Disney, NBCUniversal and Tribune, which found themselves planted in the fourth, fifth and eighth slots, respectively, after the dust settled on this year’s audit. ABC had been fourth the previous year, while NBC had been third and Tribune, fifth.

"Sinclair has recently acquired many stations, and those acquisitions are reflected in the totals," says Mark Fratrik, BIA/Kelsey VP and chief economist.

Fox Television Stations retained its lock on the top slot while CBS kept its claim for the second, both with comfortable revenue leads over Sinclair.

This year’s ranking includes three new groups: Cordillera Communications, which landed in the 28th position; Schurz Communications, ranked 29; and Dispatch Broadcast Group, No. 30.

Two slots opened because two station groups that were on the top-30 list last year — Newport Television, which was ranked No. 22, and Fisher, ranked No. 28 — have were dropped after being sold.

Another group — Granite Broadcasting, which was ranked No. 30 in last year’s list — simply got bumped out because Dispatch Broadcast was credited with $98.9 million, a slight edge over Granite, which came in at $98.8 million.

"They [Granite] got nosed out by $100,000," Fratrik says.

The ranking is based on advertising estimates alone, and do not include other revenue from retransmission consent fees and websites and other digital ventures.

Also, although the estimates are for 2012, the stations groups are credited for revenue for all stations they own and operate as well as for any stations they announced they are acquiring as of May 1.

BIA/Kelsey, an investment and research firm based in Chantilly, Va., tracks station group ownership and uses information from individual stations and markets, in addition to historical data, to generate its station and market ad revenue estimates. It checks its estimates against whatever public information is available, Fratrik said.

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