As part of the deal to get Department of Justice approval for the Disney-Fox merger, there was a requirement that the Fox regional sports networks would be sold off.
Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc, the largest USA broadcast station owner, has reached a deal valued at more than $10 billion to buy 21 regional sports networks from Walt Disney Co, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
According to reports, final bids came in last week and now Disney has confirmed that Sinclair is the owner of the Fox Regional Sports Networks. However, the company is making efforts to reduce its debt load and has already reduced the debt amount from $26.09 billion past year to $20.66 billion in 2018. Allen has also expanded his cable holdings in recent years from the niche outlets launched by Entertainment Studios to include the Weather Channel.
The RSNs will join Sinclair's existing sports business, which consists of Marquee Sports Network (its jv with the Chicago Cubs), Tennis Channel and Tennis Media Company, Stadium, Ring of Honor Wrestling and high school sports programming. "As one of the largest local news producers in the country and an experienced producer of sports content, we are ideally positioned to transfer our skills to deliver and expand our focus on greater premium sports programming".
"This acquisition is an extraordinary opportunity to diversify Sinclair's content sources and revenue streams with high-quality assets that are driving live viewing", Ripley said.
The sale - which includes RSNs in some of the nation's biggest markets - is valued at more than $10 billion.
Though hardly a household name, Sinclair has at times courted controversy by using the local stations to broadcast conservative political stances that some have described as "right-wing", including so-called "must-run" editorial segments that all of the outlets are required to air as part of local news broadcasts.
Disney and Sinclair were not immediately available for comment. The remainder of the purchase price is being funded by $8.2 billion of fully committed secured and unsecured debt incurred by Diamond.
Guggenheim Securities LLC, Deutsche Bank Securities Inc, RBC Capital Markets, Pursuit Advisors and Moelis & Company are Sinclair's financial advisers.
The largest USA local television operator, Sinclair owns or provides services to some 191 stations.