Tribune backs out of $3.9 billion buyout by Sinclair

Tribune backs out of $3.9 billion buyout by Sinclair

Tribune backs out of $3.9 billion buyout by Sinclair

In the lawsuit filing (via CNN), Tribune alleges that Sinclair "repeatedly and willfully breached its contractual obligations in spectacular fashion".

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

In July, the bid by Sinclair, a media outlet that had the vocal support of President Trump, appeared to be cruising toward approval by United States regulators.

The FCC raised questions after Sinclair had proposed to sell WGN to Maryland auto dealer Steven Fader, a longtime business associate of Sinclair Executive Chairman David Smith, as Sinclair would largely continue to operate the station under a services agreement.

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That drew a rebuke from Trump. 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.

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

With the Tribune acquisition, it could expand into dozens of markets.

Sinclair has become a significant outlet for conservative perspectives. Sinclair defended the script as a way to distinguish its news shows from unreliable stories on social media.

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

"We unequivocally stand by our position that we did not mislead the FCC with respect to the transaction or act in any way other than with complete candor and transparency", said CEO Chris Ripley.

The merger was opposed by Democratic lawmakers, consumer advocacy groups, small cable companies, and Sinclair competitors.

"The evidence we've received suggests that certain station divestitures that have been proposed to the FCC would allow Sinclair to control those stations in practice, even if not in name, in violation of the law", Pai said.

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"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. "It is especially great news for those consumers served by smaller video providers that have been victimized in the past by outrageous retransmission consent fee hikes and scurrilous signal blackouts by large corporate broadcasters". "This deal would have contributed to the trend where "local" news and "local" programming is created or scripted out of town".

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