Sinclair CEO On Company Buying Cable Operator: ‘For the Right Price, I’ll Literally Buy Anything’

'We are proponents of deregulation, and we are too small of an industry not to be'

A few months ago, Ripley had said Sinclair would be interested in acquiring Fox's regional sports networks.
Getty Images

If anyone thought Sinclair Broadcast Group might be skittish about future mergers and acquisitions in light of the federal government’s push to shut down the $3.9 billion merger with Tribune Media, think again.

“We are proponents of deregulation, and we are too small of an industry not to be,” Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley remarked this afternoon at the NAB Show in New York.

Ripley, who referred to himself as “a reformed investment banker,” maintained that Sinclair is still focused on consolidation in television, despite pushback from the federal government, which led to Chicago-based Tribune pulling out of the deal. The Tribune-Sinclair debacle wasn’t discussed during the 30-minute conversation, much to the chagrin of many in the audience.

Ripley was asked if Sinclair—America’s largest owner of U.S. TV stations—would ever consider purchasing a cable operator. He remarked that while no offer is presently on the table, “I’ll never say no to anything … for the right price, I’ll literally buy anything,” a response which elicited a chuckle from the audience.

This was in lockstep with comments Ripley made a few months ago that Sinclair would be interested in acquiring Fox’s regional sports networks that Disney would likely have to sell off as a result of the 21st Century Fox deal. He maintained his interest level today.

Ripley also spoke about Sinclair’s desire to attract young people through its emerging media platforms. He asserted that the next generation wants that local broadcast content for which Sinclair is so well-known, and that it’s working on providing content to this cord-cutting generation through these platforms.

A prime example of this move to lure young people to local broadcast television could be through the company’s new streaming service, Stirr. Ripley confirmed the service at today’s NAB session and said it will be available both linear and on-demand. He’ll be introducing Stirr to cable providers like Comcast and Spectrum for carriage in the very near future.

With all of the rumors of building a national news network to rival Fox News, Ripley said there will be a lot more to Stirr than purely local broadcast news; Stirr subscribers will also have access to talk shows and entertainment programming.