Tribune ends Sinclair merger bid and files suit over losses

Trump angry with FCC chair over Sinclair deal

Facing potentially insurmountable regulatory hurdles, Tribune Media on Thursday pulled the plug on its merger agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group and sued Sinclair for $1 billion. "Millions of people spoke out against this deal, and that public pressure was instrumental in keeping the spotlight on Sinclair". Sinclair agreed to sell off a number of stations to comply with the FCC's national ownership cap, which prohibits a single entity from reaching more than 39 percent of TV households.

The FCC reportedly concluded that Sinclair may have misrepresented or omitted some facts in its applications in an attempt to get around the FCC's ownership rules.

Tribune said in the lawsuit that the merger agreement included a clause that when seeking to divest stations, Sinclair would sell in a manner that would avoid "even the threat" of any regulatory review.

"So sad and unfair that the FCC wouldn't approve the Sinclair Broadcast merger with Tribune".

The merger, which would have created a local TV behemoth reaching almost two-thirds of US households, hit the rocks earlier this summer.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

Tribune Media has no further comment. But constructing deals in such a way that would allow the company to maintain control or re-purchase them wasn't what Tribune had in mind.

Tribune Media Co.is the parent company of KFSM/KXNW.

The Federal Communications Commission on July 18 sent the deal to a hearing by the agency's administrative law judge, citing possible misrepresentations or lack of candor in some proposed station divestitures.

'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 time frame, if ever, ' said Tribune Media Chief Executive Officer Peter Kern. The Tribune deal, plus other pending acquisitions, will give Sinclair a total of 233 TV stations. "Further delay and uncertainly would be detrimental to our company, our business partners and our shareholders, and accordingly, our board made a decision to terminate the merger agreement with Sinclair".

A dozen Senate Democrats said in April Sinclair was deliberately distorting news coverage by forcing local stations to read scripts that criticized what it described as "the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country". The transaction would have left Sinclair with more than 200 stations.

Those transactions involved selling highly valuable stations to buyers with business ties to Sinclair for below-market prices, the FCC alleged.

After that, the Justice Department started an investigation about whether talks between advertising teams at TV Station groups violated antitrust laws.

Sinclair has become a significant outlet for conservative perspectives.

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