Friday, 17 August, 2018

Tribune backs out of $3.9 billion buyout by Sinclair

Tribune Media terminates deal to be bought by Sinclair Modal Trigger Getty Images
Guillermo Jimenez | 10 August, 2018, 08:45

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

As of today, the highly anticipated Sinclair and Tribune TV merger is dead.

The FCC in July referred the merger to an administrative judge hearing, and called into question whether some of Sinclair's proposed divestments were a "sham".

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

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

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Tribune filed the lawsuit against Sinclair, the largest USA broadcast station owner, alleging material breach of contract over its failure to win over regulators 15 months after the merger was first announced.

Not only is it pulling out of the deal, but Tribune said it will sue Sinclair, arguing Sinclair's negotiations with the US Justice Department and FCC were "unnecessarily aggressive".

The turnabout has ruined plans by the Smith family that controls Sinclair to buy more than 30 more TV stations from Chicago-based Tribune Media, to add to its current roster of more than 190 stations.

The failure of the proposed $3.9 billion merger ends a lengthy saga that generated widespread opposition over Sinclair's right-leaning editorial views and concerns about media concentration.

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

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Sinclair already has 173 stations around the country, including KENV in Salt Lake City, KOMO in Seattle and WKRC in Cincinnati.

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

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". President Donald Trump tweeted his support of the company at the time.

The deal's termination, which scuppers Sinclair's efforts to dramatically expand, comes after criticism by Democrats and public advocacy groups over whether the merger was in the public interest.

"While what has apparently killed this deal was Sinclair's pattern of deception at the FCC - a fact that should affect its future dealings at the Commission - the deal was bad on its own merits, and this latest development is good for consumers", said Phillip Berenbroick, senior policy counsel at the organization. "But we expect more efforts from the media titans in the future to tighten their grip on the information marketplace".

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"So sad and unfair that the FCC wouldn't approve the Sinclair Broadcast merger with Tribune".

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