Sinclair/Allbritton Deal is This/Close to Being a Done Deal

Sinclair has moved this/close to closing its long-pending $985 million purchase of the Allbritton stations.  

The deal has moved into the final stages after Sinclair agreed to settle a lawsuit from the Justice Department requiring it to divest one of the seven stations it has agreed to buy.

The settlement was reached in the wake of Sinclair's agreement, announced last month, to sell the station to Media General.

The Justice Department had been concerned that Sinclair's acquisition of the station, Allbritton's ABC affiliate in Harrisburg, Pa., would give it too much power over advertising in the local market. Sinclair already owns a CBS affiliate and runs a CW affiliate in the same market.

"The rivalry between the stations has helped to constrain advertising rates, and without the divestiture, advertisers on stations in this area would likely have paid higher prices," said Bill Baer, assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division.

The settlement comes less than two weeks before a one-year clock will run out for Sinclair to get regulatory approval for its Allbritton deal. If approval isn't reached in time, Sinclair has said the deal may not close.

The settlement will "pave the way in fact for a DOJ approval," wrote Evercore analyst Doug Arthur. "Next stop: the FCC," referring to the Federal Communications Commission.

Stay tuned....

H/T Wall Street Journal