Tribune Backs Out Of Buying Out Trump-Friendly Sinclair

Trump angry with FCC chair over Sinclair deal

Tribune Media has backed out of its proposed $3.9 billion merger with Sinclair Broadcast Group and said it will be filing a lawsuit against the broadcasting giant for allegedly breaching their merger agreement. It's believed that if the deal went through ROH would have had a bigger audience nationally as Sinclair also owns them. 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. The FCC moved to refer parts of the deal for review by an administrative law judge, effectively leaving it on life support.

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.

The surprising announcement comes just hours after Sinclair, on Wednesday, said merger talks were continuing. That's when Tribune board voted to walk away.

Tribune also said Sinclair refused to sell stations in the markets as required to obtain approval, and proposed aggressive divestment structures and related-party sales that were either rejected outright or posed a high risk of rejection and delay.

"In light of (the FCC order), this transaction can not be completed within an acceptable time frame, if ever", Kern said.


Sinclair raised hackles in March when it had all the anchors of its daily news shows across the country recite the exact same script, which adopted the tone and rhetoric of Trump, accusing other media outlets of spreading "biased and false news".

'To maintain control over stations it was obligated to sell, Sinclair engaged in unnecessarily aggressive and protracted negotiations with the Department of Justice and the FCC over regulatory requirements, ' Tribune said. "Accordingly, we have exercised our right to terminate the Merger Agreement, and, by way of our lawsuit, intend to hold Sinclair accountable". The lawsuit also alleges that Sinclair was "confrontational with and belittling of DOJ staff" including DOJ antitrust chief Makan Delrahim.

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".

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".

The Maryland company did not immediately respond early Thursday to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

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