Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Tribune calls off $3.9 billion Sinclair media deal

Trump angry with FCC chair over Sinclair deal Trump angry with FCC chair over Sinclair deal
Herman Weaver | 10 August, 2018, 08:43

Tribune Media Co. said Thursday that it is suing Sinclair for breach of contract and at least $1 billion in damages, according to its complaint.

Sinclair, which owns 192 stations, said in May 2017 that it planned to acquire Chicago-based Tribune´s 42 TV stations in 33 markets in a deal that would significantly expand its reach.

Approval of the merger was widely considered inevitable because Trump's FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, is notoriously anti-regulation and pro-merger, and had rolled back ownership rules for broadcast media companies a year ago in a manner that seemingly paved the way for the deal.

"This uncertainty and delay would be detrimental to our company and our shareholders".

Tribune, which owns FOX59, also said that it is filing a lawsuit against Sinclair, citing breach of contract.

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. Sinclair also refused to sell certain stations that would have helped the deal secure regulatory approval, Tribune claimed in a news release.

Sinclair also has become a significant outlet for conservative perspectives.

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was initially seen as favoring the union, which had the blessing of the Trump administration.

Wednesday was the first day Tribune was allowed to pull out of the deal, per the merger agreement.

The FCC did not immediately comment on Thursday.

Kern acknowledged that there would be "speculation" about who might buy Tribune, but urged employees to "shake off the cobwebs of deal distraction, ignore the outside noise, and continue delivering on our commitment to each other, to our customers, to our partners and to the communities we serve". Sinclair would have stations in Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Virginia, Indianapolis, Seattle, Sacramento, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Des Moines, Denver, Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, Memphis, Miami, Greensboro, Richmond, Des Moines, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City, St. Louis and more. The company already owned 173 stations in 81 markets.

In an announcement early Thursday morning, Tribune blamed Sinclair for the regulatory roadblocks that the deal has encountered at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

"We are extremely disappointed that after 15 months of trying to close the Tribune transaction, we are instead announcing its termination", said Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley.

A dozen Senate Democrats said in April Sinclair was deliberately distorting news coverage by forcing local stations to read scripts that criticized what it described as "the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country".

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