Tribune calls off $3.9B buyout by Sinclair
NEW YORK (AP) — Tribune Media Co. withdrew from its $3.9 billion buyout by Sinclair, ending a bid to create a massive media juggernaut that could have rivaled the reach of Fox News.
Tribune, which is on the hook for a $135 million breakup fee, said today it is suing Sinclair for breach of contract. The Chicago company claimed Sinclair used "unnecessarily aggressive and protracted negotiations" with the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission over regulatory requirements and that it refused to sell the stations it needed to in order for regulatory approval.
Sinclair Broadcast Group wanted the Chicago company's 42 TV stations and had initially agreed to dump almost two dozen of its own to score approval by the FCC. The media company which has enjoyed the support of President Donald Trump appeared to be cruising toward approval by U.S. regulators.
Last month, however, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said he had "serious concerns" about the deal, saying Sinclair might still be able to operate the stations "in practice, even if not in name."
That drew a rebuke from Trump.
"So sad and unfair that the FCC wouldn't approve the Sinclair Broadcast merger with Tribune," Trump tweeted. He said that allowing Sinclair to expand its reach would have led to a "much needed conservative voice by and for the people."
Sinclair operates 192 stations, runs 611 channels and operates in 89 U.S. markets. It would have been able to expand rapidly into numerous new markets with the Tribune acquisition.
Sinclair has become a significant outlet for conservative views.
It was admonished by media watchdogs in April after Deadspin, a sports news site, pieced together clips of dozens of TV anchors for Sinclair reading from the same script, which warned viewers about "biased and false news" from other media outlets.