Published: Fri, August 10, 2018
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

Sinclair-Tribune Deal Dead, And Tribune's Suing Sinclair

Sinclair-Tribune Deal Dead, And Tribune's Suing Sinclair

Tribune Media the parent company of KFSM/KXNW.

Tribune Media on Thursday pulled out of a deal to acquire Sinclair Broadcast Group, and is suing for breach of contract, after the group came under scrutiny from USA regulators.

For its part. SINCLAIR followed up the TRIBUNE announcement with its own announcement that its Board of Directors has authorized a stock buyback plan of up to $1 billion for its Class A common shares.

Had the merger with Tribune Media been approved, Sinclair would have completely dominated the local news market.

Last month, the Federal Communications Commission voiced concerns that Sinclair may have attempted to skirt ownership rules, and ordered the potential transaction to go through an administrative hearing. Hearings can take months, and the prospect of enduring one killed previous deals.

The FCC vote means that the "merger can not be completed within an acceptable timeframe, if ever", Tribune CEO Peter Kern said.

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Tribune said the contract required Sinclair to make its best effort to obtain prompt regulatory approval of the deal. The agency also questioned links between the Maryland-based broadcaster and a buyer proposed for stations in Dallas and Houston.

There was still a slim chance that Sinclair could save the merger because the FCC referred the deal to an administrative law judge.

Tribune Media is suing Sinclair Broadcast Group over the way it handled divesting TV stations ahead of their planned merger.

"Liberal Fake News NBC and Comcast gets approved, much bigger, but not Sinclair", he added.

"We've done everything we could to assist Sinclair in getting through the regulatory process, and it's been a huge undertaking for our company to manage through this prolonged exercise, while also keeping our business running strong", Tribune Media CEO Peter Kern said during an earnings call Thursday morning.

To stay under the national TV ownership cap, Sinclair had proposed shedding 23 stations, including 14 owned by Tribune and nine of its own. The owner of WGN-Ch.9 and dozens of other television stations, Tribune Media remains an acquisition target.

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"In an effort to maintain control over stations it was obligated to sell if advisable to obtain regulatory clearance, Sinclair engaged in belligerent and unnecessarily protracted negations with DOJ and the FCC over regulator requirements... all in the service of Sinclair's self-interest and in derogation of its contractual obligations", the suit alleges.

The Sinclair Broadcast Group was its roots in the early 1970s, when Julian Sinclair Smith operated an FM radio station and a TV station in Baltimore.

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

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has been vocal in his opposition to the deal, a stance that was criticized by Trump.

Sinclair also has become a significant outlet for conservative perspectives.

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