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Sinclair Broadcast creates emergency fund to help sports network freelancers

Hunt Valley-based Sinclair Broadcast Group has set up a multi-million dollar emergency fund to help freelancers at two of its sports networks.

Nearly 1,000 eligible freelancers at Fox Regional Sports Networks and Marquee Sports Network, the Chicago Cubs’ network, will be able to receive an immediate interest-free advance of $2,500 starting April 3.

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Sinclair said it launched the fund in response to the new coronavirus pandemic, which has halted live sports production indefinitely and deprived freelancers of work.

“This is an unprecedented time for the world and the media, but few in our industry are feeling the impacts of the coronavirus more than those who work in sports,” Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley said. "These nearly 1,000 freelancers work tirelessly season after season to bring fans the best in live sports. As we face this extraordinary event, we are hoping that this fund will provide integral assistance to our key team members.”

Sinclair owns or operates 23 regional sports network brands and owns, operates or provides services to 191 television stations in 89 markets. The broadcaster completed its $10.6 billion deal to acquire 21 regional sports networks and Fox College Sports from Disney in August.

“We expect that the postponement of games is indeed just that — a postponement — and that ultimately the games will be played," said Jeff Krolik, Sinclair’s president of local sports.

The interest-free advance is for eligible freelancers who worked regularly on a regional sports network’s games in a home market last year. The advance can be made up in small deductions from pay once games return, the broadcaster said.

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