Tribune Media terminates deal to be bought by Sinclair

09 August, 2018, 21:15 | Author: Irvin Gilbert
  • Tribune Media terminates merger agreement with Sinclair files lawsuit for breach of contract

Tribune's move to kill the merger comes three weeks after the Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously against approving Sinclair's proposed acquisition of Tribune Media.

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

"In light of the FCC's unanimous decision, referring the issue of Sinclair's conduct for a hearing before an administrative law judge, our merger can not be completed within an acceptable timeframe, if ever", Tribune Media CEO Peter Kern said in the statement.

Separately, on Tuesday, Democratic members of Congress asked the FCC to investigate reports that "Sinclair Broadcasting illegally exercised control over the advertising activities of Tribune Media Company".

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 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.

In the merger agreement, Sinclair committed to use its reasonable best efforts to obtain regulatory approval as promptly as possible, including agreeing in advance to divest stations in certain markets as necessary or advisable for regulatory approval. Tribune also filed a lawsuit, accusing Sinclair with breach of contract.

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Sinclair, one of the nation's largest owners of TV stations, has become a significant outlet for conservative perspectives.

The American Cable Association (ACA), which represents small- and medium-sized cable companies, also cheered Tribune's decision.

Ajit Pai, the Republican FCC chairman appointed by President Donald Trump, abruptly flagged "serious concerns" about the divestitures of stations by Sinclair and referred the case to an administrative law judge, effectively killing the deal.

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 USA, with 233 stations.

Advocacy group Free Press said in an FCC filing in August 2017 that Sinclair forces its TV stations to "air pro-Trump propaganda and then seeks favors from the Trump administration".

Sinclair did not respond to a request for comment Thursday morning.

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. Sinclair defended the script as a way to distinguish its news shows from unreliable stories on social media.

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