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Sinclair Broadcast Group, one of the largest local TV station owners in the country, is laying off approximately 5 percent of its workforce, citing the economic impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be felt across all sectors of the economy, something that can have a profound impact on a company as diversified as ours,” a spokesperson for the company tells The Hollywood Reporter in a statement. “From local businesses and advertisers to distributors and partners, no component of our business’s ecosystem has been fully shielded from the impact of the global pandemic. In response to this, we are currently undergoing enterprise-wide reductions across our workforce, including corporate headquarters, to ensure we are well-positioned for future success.”
Sinclair had 11,600 employees as of the end of 2020 according to its 2020 annual report, so between 550-600 employees are likely to be impacted.
The company operates some 130 local TV stations across the country, and in 2019 acquired the regional sports networks (RSNs) that were previously owned by Fox. Live sports was severely disrupted by the pandemic, dealing a major blow to RSNs which rely almost entirely on games from local sports teams for their revenue. The company has raised cash for the RSNs by selling naming rights to them to casino operator Bally’s. In January, the company renamed its RSNs with the “Bally Sports” moniker.
And while 2020 saw record political revenue at local TV stations, with the pandemic continuing to impact the economy in 2021 and without any major political races on the calendar, the economics become challenging.
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