Federal officials have cleared Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s $985 million purchase of Allbritton Communications’ seven TV stations, including its flagship WJLA (channel 7 in Washington) and the local cable station, Newschannel 8.
The Federal Communications Commission gave its approval to the deal late Thursday nearly a year to the day it was announced by Sinclair, based in suburban Baltimore, and Allbritton, headquartered in Arlington.
The FCC placed several conditions on its approval, including the sale of Allbritton’s station in Harrisburg, Pa., where Sinclair already owns a station.
The deal makes Sinclair, already one of the nation’s largest TV station owners, into an entity reaching almost 40 percent of U.S. television households through stations in 77 markets.
The company, known for supporting conservative causes and candidates, has said it will explore starting a nationwide news operation with Newschannel 8 at its core.
WJLA is the ABC affiliate in Washington and was the crown jewel in the station group assembled by the late entrepreneur Joe L. Allbritton and his son, Robert. Robert Allbritton has said he will use the proceeds of the station sale to invest in new media properties and to strengthen Politico, the newsite his company started in 2005.
— Paul Farhi