Reports: Right-wing media group Sinclair Broadcasting to buy Disney regional sports networks

Yahoo Sports
Sinclair Broadcasting has reportedly purchased the rights to cover the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/teams/ny-yankees/" data-ylk="slk:New York Yankees">New York Yankees</a> and sports teams across the country. (AP)
Sinclair Broadcasting has reportedly purchased the rights to cover the New York Yankees and sports teams across the country. (AP)

Local television juggernaut Sinclair Broadcast Group has reached a deal to purchase 21 regional sports networks from Disney, according to multiple reports.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the deal is valued at more than $10 billion.

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Disney acquired the networks as part of its $71 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox — Fox’s entertainment wing — that was completed in March.

The U.S. Department of Justice ordered Disney to sell the regional sports networks in granting the larger sale due to antitrust concerns because Disney already owned sports broadcasting powerhouse ESPN.

Sinclair entering major TV markets

Those sports networks will now be under control of Sinclair Broadcast Group. The 21 networks are spread out in markets across the country and include the YES Network that carries New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets games and Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket, which carry coverage of several Los Angeles-area sports teams, including the Clippers, Rams, Chargers and Angels as well as UCLA and USC.

Amazon is reportedly buying a share of the $3.5 billion stake in the YES Network.

Liberty Media Corp and Big 3 Basketball LLC — the basketball league fronted by rapper Ice Cube — were also in the bidding, according to the Wall Street Journal.

What is Sinclair Broadcast Group?

Sinclair is the nation’s largest owner of local TV stations. As of 2018, Sinclair owned 173 stations in 81 markets, according to the Washington Post.

While the company’s brand might not be a household name, its influence is widespread as it creates content for the local news stations it owns.

Sinclair made headlines last year when Deadspin compiled footage from anchors on its local news networks parroting a scripted message critical of mainstream media, echoing President Donald Trump’s regular attack on media outlets whose coverage he doesn’t find favorable.

After the Deadspin compilation went viral, Trump took to Twitter to praise Sinclair.

Sinclair is also known for sending editorial segments known as “must-runs” to its local outlets that are required to air as part of local news broadcasts.

One of the better known must-run segments was an editorial from former Sinclair executive Mark Hyman titled “Snowflake Advice” for new college students.

“Listen up closely, snowflake,” Hyman said. “Yes, I’m talking to you — you the social justice warrior who whines for trigger warnings and safe spaces.”

The deal between Disney and Sinclair is expected to be announced Friday morning.

It will expand Sinclair’s influence from largely smaller and mid-sized cities into the country’s two largest media markets and beyond.

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