A new kerfuffle between Sinclair Broadcast Group and Fox Networks has local media watchers wondering if we could see “Fox 16” in Pittsburgh. 21st Century Fox is in talks with Ion Media Networks to become an affiliate partner which would likely mean that Fox would drop SBG as a partner for its broadcast network. Instead, those markets where there are ION and Sinclair ownerships, would see Fox programming on ION-owned stations. Apparently Fox and SBG has long had an amicable, yet strained relationship. Fox appears to be upset again as Sinclair waits for approval to purchase Tribune Media.
This is all speculation and analysts suggest that it is a negotiating ploy by Fox as there are several Sinclair-owned Fox stations up for affiliate renewal this year. Fox is apparently concerned with SBG’s purchase of Tribune which could affect the fees split between the companies that cable companies pay to carry SBG-owned signals. Fox also appears to be concerned about SBG’s in-house programming that rivals that of Fox.
Sinclair owns WPGH-TV (53; Fox) and WPNT-TV (22; My Network TV) in Pittsburgh. WPGH began its affiliation with Fox in 1986. Around the region, Sinclair also owns WJAC-TV (6; NBC) in Johnstown and WTOV-TV (9; NBC) in Steubenville.