Sinclair Intends to Pull the Plug on Three ABC Affiliates As Part of Allbritton Deal

By Kevin Eck 

sinclair_304Sinclair Broadcast Group has told the FCC it intends to surrender the licenses of the ABC affiliates in Charleston, SC, and Birmingham, AL, because of the FCC’s recent restrictions on joint sales agreements.

Sinclair intends to surrender the licenses of WCFT and WJSU in Birmingham and ABC affiliate WCIV in Charleston. The three stations are currently owned by Allbritton.

Sinclair has been trying to sell the licenses to comply with the FCC’s ruling against joint sales agreements.

According to the filing, Sinclair wants to move the ABC programming and syndicated shows of the stations to its MyNetworkTV affiliates WABM in Birmingham and WMMP in Charleston.

FCC Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Reilly released a statement saying Sinclair had an African-American owned broadcaster in line to buy WMMP and WABM but the deal fell through because of the FCC’s ruling restricting JSAs.

“When the Commission voted to restrict television broadcasters’ use of joint sales agreements (JSAs), we warned that this decision would lead to “less ownership diversity” and “more television stations going out of business,” wrote Pai and O’Reilly. “Unfortunately, just two months later, this is coming to pass.”

So what has the Commission’s decision wrought? Instead of increasing the number of African-American-owned television stations, we are driving stations off the air. This will mean job losses, less service to South Carolinians and Alabamians, and less ownership diversity. We do not see how such an outcome possibly serves the public interest, and we hope that the Commission will take action immediately to correct its misguided restrictions on JSAs.