Lawyers at five firms were called in to advise on Sinclair Broadcast Group's $985 million purchase of a group of television stations from Allbritton Communications Company, the parent company of Politico, as the ongoing consolidation in the television industry continues to benefit the legal sector.
In a deal announced Monday, Sinclair has agreed to acquire seven ABC local affiliates, as well as NewsChannel 8—a 24-hour cable news network that covers Washington, D.C.—from Arlington, Virginia–based Allbritton. The ABC stations include affiliates in Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia, as well as the network's coveted Washington, D.C. affiliate, WJLA. The New York Times notes that the size of the deal—which outpaced by about $100 million some analysts' predictions from what the stations would fetch went they went up for sale in May—reflects the appeal of WJLA, which is located in one of the country's top television markets.
Sinclair, which is based in Hunt Valley, Maryland, acquired four stations owned by TTBG LLC last month for roughly $115.35 million as part of the company's efforts to actively expand its television holdings. The New York Times adds that Sinclair has spent about $2 billion on a series of similar smaller deals since the start of 2012, not including the acquisition of the Allbritton stations.
Other companies have also been snapping up television assets, with the Tribune Company paying $2.73 billion for 19 television stations owned by Local TV Holdings earlier this month in a deal that came on the heels of Gannett's $2.2 billion purchase of broadcaster Belo Corp. in June.
Sinclair expects to complete its deal with Allbritton before the end of the year, pending antitrust clearance and the approval of the Federal Communications Commission.
Attorneys at Greenberg Traurig and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman are advising Sinclair on the deal, with Greenberg's team led by Atlanta-based corporate partner James Altenbach.
Washington, D.C.–based Pillsbury communications law partners Clifford Harrington and Miles Mason are providing FCC advice to Sinclair and will work to obtain the commission's approval of the deal. The firm has advised the broadcasting company on various litigation and corporate matters in the past, including last month's deal with TTBG.
A source close to the transaction tells The Am Law Daily that Sinclair attorney David Gibber is leading the company's in-house team. Barry Faber is Sinclair's general counsel.
Paul Hastings is advising Allbritton on the sale, along with attorneys from Dow Lohnes and Norton Rose Fulbright. The Paul Hastings team is led by media M&A partner Eric Dodson Greenberg and associate Scott Oross. Antitrust chair Michael P.A. Cohen and employment partner Mark Poerio are also advising. Other Paul Hastings associates on the deal are Matthew Gibson, Laura McGurty, Matthew Stoker, and Michael Wise.
The deal marks the second major broadcasting deal Paul Hastings has landed a role on in recent months. The firm also advised Gannett on its Belo purchase along with a team led by M&A partner Greenberg.
Dow Lohnes is advising Allbritton on regulatory matters involving the FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice. The firm's team includes communications partners John Feore, Michael Basile, and John Logan, as well as antitrust partner Parker Erkmann.
Meanwhile, Norton Rose Fulbright tax head John Allender is serving as tax counsel to the Allbritton family, which owns the parent company of Allbritton Communications.
Jerald Fritz is Allbritton's vice president for legal and strategic affairs. Before joining the company in 1987, Fritz served as chief of staff and legal counsel to the chairman of the FCC.