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Sinclair completes $9.6-billion purchase of Fox regional sports networks from Disney

Sinclair purchased 21 regional networks, including Fox Sports West, which televises Angels games
Sinclair purchased 21 regional sports networks from Disney, including Fox Sports West, which televises Angels games.
(Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times )

Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. completed its $9.6-billion acquisition of 21 of the Fox regional sports networks on Friday, bringing new ownership to a cluster of popular channels including Fox Sports West, Prime Ticket and Fox Sports San Diego.

Sinclair and Walt Disney Co. announced the completion of the transaction, which included the Fox College Sports channel.

Disney had acquired the channels as part of its $71.3-billion purchase of much of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. However, because Disney already owned sports juggernaut ESPN, antitrust regulators at the U.S. Department of Justice ruled that it could not keep the Fox sports channels and gave Disney 90 days after the Fox deal closed to unload them.

Sinclair won the tepid auction for the channels in May.

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On Friday, Sinclair did not immediately say how it intends to rebrand the regional sports networks, known as RSNs. The channels will substantially boost Sinclair’s business, which consists of 191 TV stations, primarily network affiliates, and the boutique Tennis Channel. The RSNs have lucrative rights to 42 professional teams, including top National Basketball Assn., National Hockey League and Major League Baseball teams.

“We are very excited about the transformational aspects the RSN acquisition will have on Sinclair and are eager to bring those opportunities to life,” Chris Ripley, chief executive of Sinclair, said in a statement. “We welcome Jeff Krolik, president of the RSNs, and the rest of the RSN management team and staff to the Sinclair family.”

The 21 regional channels were purchased by a subsidiary of Sinclair called the Diamond Sports Group, which includes Los Angeles media mogul Byron Allen as an equity and content partner. Allen, the founder of Entertainment Studios, purchased the Weather Channel last year.

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In addition to the three Southern California channels, the portfolio also includes Fox Sports Arizona, Fox Sports Detroit, Fox Sports Florida, Fox Sports Wisconsin, Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Carolina, Fox Sports Midwest and Fox Sports Kansas City. However, the largest regional sports channel, YES, which televises New York Yankees games, was not included in the transaction.


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