Tribune Media terminates deal to be bought by Sinclair

  • Tribune Media terminates deal to be bought by Sinclair

Tribune Media terminates deal to be bought by Sinclair

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said in July that Sinclair "did not fully disclose" facts about the merger, raising questions about whether the company 'attempted to skirt the commission's broadcast ownership rules'. The lawsuit seeks compensation for all losses incurred as a result of Sinclair's material breaches of the Merger Agreement. Sinclair already own 39% of the TV stations in the U.S., and this would have raised that to 42%.

"In light of the FCC's unanimous decision, referring the issue of Sinclair's conduct for a hearing before an administrative law judge, our merger can not be completed within an acceptable timeframe, if ever", said Tribune Media CEO Peter Kern, in a statement.

The deal was worth $3.9 billion for Tribune Media and would have added more than 40 stations including KTLA in Los Angeles, WPIX in NY and WGN-TV in Chicago to Sinclairs list of local affiliates.

It also means an uncertain future for Chicago-based Tribune Media after 15 months of preparing to be taken over by Sinclair.

Sinclair had proposed some revisions to its divesture plan last month, but those terms left Sinclair in control of stations under scrutiny, including in Chicago. In addition, Tribune said, Sinclair outright refused to sell station in some markets. By one estimate, the combined company would have owned stations in almost 3 out of 4 US households, controlling an enormous amount of the content Americans see on local stations. The Tribune deal, plus other pending acquisitions, will give Sinclair a total of 233 TV stations. It announced plans previous year to merge with Chicago-based Tribune, a deal that would have given Sinclair access to 72 percent of American households.

Public Knowledge, an advocacy group that has been critical of the FCC under Pai, has been against a tie up between Sinclair and Tribune from the start.

Mike Huckabee, (R-Ark.), and FBN's Maria Bartiromo and Kristina Partsinevelos on Tribune Media terminating its merger agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Sinclair did not respond to a request for comment Thursday morning.

Ajit Pai, the Republican FCC chairman appointed by President Donald Trump, abruptly flagged "serious concerns" about the divestitures of stations by Sinclair and referred the case to an administrative law judge, effectively killing the deal.

It was admonished by media watchdogs in April after dozens of Sinclair news anchors read an identical script expressing concern about "one-sided news stories plaguing the country".

Sinclair, a Maryland-based company which is the largest owner of local news stations in the US, is notorious for its right-wing, pro-Trump slant, and its unusual system of distributing slanted "must-run" content to its local stations to work into their broadcasts.