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Sinclair will buy four Cox Media TV stations for $99 million

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. has agreed to buy four small-market television stations owned by Cox Media Group for $99 million, the latest deal for Sinclair in a string of acquisitions over the past year and a half.

The Hunt Valley TV station owner also announced it has launched a new operating unit, Chesapeake TV, to run the Cox stations and other small stations the company might acquire. Sinclair also will provide sales services to an additional Cox station.

The broadcaster has purchased 30 TV stations in mid-sized markets over the past 18 months.

"We believe there are many more opportunities to acquire quality assets and to unlock hidden value, including in the smaller markets, such as where the [Cox] stations operate," said Sinclair CEO and President David Smith in a statement. "We believe our platform size and leadership position allow us to bring meaningful purchasing power and negotiating leverage to these stations."

Sinclair plans to finance the purchase price, less a $5 million deposit and $4.3 million in working capital adjustments, through a bank loan and by accessing the capital markets. The transaction requires Federal Communications Commission approval and antitrust clearance and is expected to close in the second quarter.

The Cox stations include two Fox affiliates, in El Paso, Tex., and in Reno, Nev., two NBC affiliates, in Johnstown/Altoona, Pa., and in Wheeling, W.Va./Steubenville, Ohio, and an MNT affiliate in Reno.

Sinclair's stock was up 22 cents at $14.07 a share at midday.

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