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Sinclair buys stations in Va. $255 million deal expands coverage to 20% of U.S. homes; 'A great opportunity'; Max Media agrees to sell 17 radio, television outlets; Communications


In a deal that will expand its television holdings to cover nearly a fifth of the nation's households, Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. said yesterday that it will buy Max Media Properties LLC of Virginia Beach, Va., for $255 million.

The acquisition of Max Media's nine television stations and eight radio stations is expected to become final during the second quarter of 1998.

Baltimore-based Sinclair owns or operates 28 television stations, including channels 45 and 54 in Baltimore, and 34 radio stations. If pending deals receive federal approval, Sinclair will own or provide programming to 45 television stations and 66 radio stations.

Sinclair will pay for Max Media with bank financing.

"The acquisition of the Max Media properties is a great opportunity for Sinclair on a number of fronts," said David Smith, Sinclair's chief executive officer.

The properties will extend Sinclair's national coverage to 19.5 percent of the nation's television households and give it a greater presence in the top 75 markets, he said.

The transaction was announced after financial markets closed. Sinclair shares closed yesterday at $36.25, unchanged.

Max Media stations among the top 75 markets include WKEF, an NBC affiliate in Dayton, Ohio and WSYT, a Fox affiliate in Syracuse, N.Y. Smaller market television stations owned by Max Media reach into Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas and South Carolina.

"The television stations in the smaller markets have exciting growth prospects," Smith said. "This transaction enhances our radio group as well, adding excellent properties in Norfolk, Va., and Greensboro, N.C."

David Amy, the company's chief financial officer, characterized the Max Media acquisition as a medium-sized deal for Sinclair.

"It's a good size group of television and radio properties," he said.

In July, the company announced an agreement to purchase the six television stations and 24 radio stations of the Heritage Media Group for $630 million. Sinclair agreed in November to buy Lakeland Group Television Inc., which owns a Minneapolis television station, for $52.5 million in cash and assumed debt.

Because two Max Media television stations have overlapping service areas with three Sinclair stations, the company will apply for waivers from the Federal Communications Commission, allowing it to own all the stations.

"I don't expect to see any antitrust issues at all come up in this," Amy said.

Sinclair said it will sell two FM stations in the Norfolk, Va., market it is acquiring in the Max Media and Heritage Media deals.

Those sales are necessary to comply with an FCC regulation preventing ownership of more than four FM stations in specific markets.

Pub Date: 12/04/97

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