Tribune Media kills $3.9B merger with Sinclair after FCC's 'serious concerns'

10 August, 2018, 08:46 | Author: Eleanor Thompson
  • Omarosa Manigault-Newman

"The collapse of the merger is great news for dozens of local communities that will be spared Sinclair's slanted coverage and ridiculous must-runs.", said Craig Aaron, CEO of Free Press, referring to commentary segments produced at the corporate level that Sinclair requires its stations to broadcast.

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.

The deal, as originally announced in May 2017, would give Sinclair control of 233 TV stations, including 42 Tribune-owned stations and a presence in such top markets as NY and Chicago.

Sinclair is the nation's largest local broadcaster, reaching about 4 in 10 USA households through TV stations.

Sinclair refused to sell stations in the markets as required to obtain regulatory approval, according to Tribune's release, prompting the FCC to put the merger on indefinite hold.

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'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.

At the same time it announced the lawsuit and the end of the road with Sinclair, Tribune also reported second-quarter earnings growth of 69% and revenue growth of 6%.

The FCC recently sent the deal to an administrative law judge for a closer look because of concerns that Sinclair misrepresented facts in its application in order to circumvent the FCC's ownership rules. Here, the WGN Radio sign appears on the side of Tribune Tower in downtown Chicago. The FCC declined to comment on Thursday.

Kern told employees in an email reviewed by Reuters that it was not clear what was next for Tribune.

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The complaint seeks $1 billion from Sinclair to cover the "lost premium to Tribune's stockholders", plus "additional damages in an amount to be proven at trial".

Under the terms of the deal, Tribune and Sinclair had the right to call off the deal without paying a termination fee if it was not completed by August 8.

The Maryland company said Thursday in a prepared statement that the Tribune lawsuit is "entirely without merit".

Mike Huckabee, (R-Ark.), and FBN's Maria Bartiromo and Kristina Partsinevelos on Tribune Media terminating its merger agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group. "Instead, Sinclair fought, threatened, insulted, and misled regulators in a misguided and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to retain control over stations that it was obligated to sell".

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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