Tribune Backs Out Of Buying Out Trump-Friendly Sinclair

Trump angry with FCC chair over Sinclair deal

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. "The complaint 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 United States, and this would have raised that to 42%.

The $3.9 billion deal would have given Sinclair control of more than 200 local television stations broadcasting to 72 percent of the United States population, and the announcement of the proposed merger in May 2017 raised concerns about Sinclair's market dominance.

But Tribune announced today "that it has filed a lawsuit in the Delaware Chancery Court against Sinclair for breach of contract".

The FCC said Sinclair did not "fully disclose facts" about the planned sale of three stations, including pre-existing business relationships between the company and prospective buyers.

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.

Sinclair "committed to use its reasonable best efforts to obtain regulatory approval as promptly as possible", Tribune said in a statement, but instead "in an effort to maintain control over stations it was obligated to sell, [it] engaged in unnecessarily aggressive and protracted negotiations with [federal regulators]". Its portfolio of 42 local TV stations as well as assets such as the WGN America cable network, were viewed as attractive and will likely remain so given the company's consistent financial performance of late.

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.

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Tribune Media is a parent company of WGN-TV.

FCC Chairman in July expressed "serious concerns" over the deal, saying Sinclair would still control the stations it divested in practice.

Sinclair did not immediately comment on Thursday, but said last month 'at no time have we withheld information or misled the FCC in any manner whatsoever'.

It's already been more than a year after the merger was announced; the two companies had previously said they would close the deal by the end of 2017.

Sinclair has defended the decision to have its anchors read from the same script across the country as a way to distinguish its news shows from unreliable stories on social media.

Hunt Valley, Md. -based Sinclair agreed to buy Tribune Media's 42 TV stations in May 2017, creating what would be the largest ownership group in the US, with 233 stations.

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