Tribune calls off $3.9B buyout by Sinclair

Omarosa Manigault-Newman

Sinclair, a Maryland-based company which is the largest owner of local news stations in the US, is notorious for its right-wing, pro-Trump slant, and its unusual system of distributing slanted "must-run" content to its local stations to work into their broadcasts.

Tribune said it will sue Sinclair for breach of contract, arguing Sinclair's negotiations with the US Justice Department and FCC were "unnecessarily aggressive".

The deal was worth $3.9 billion for Tribune Media and would have added more than 40 stations including KTLA in Los Angeles, WPIX in NY and WGN-TV in Chicago to Sinclairs list of local affiliates.

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 company was admonished by media watchdogs in April after dozens of Sinclair news anchors read an identical script expressing concern about "one-sided news stories plaguing the country".

There was still a slim chance that Sinclair could save the merger because the FCC referred the deal to an administrative law judge.

It's already been more than a year after the merger was announced; the two companies had previously said they would close the deal by the end of 2017.

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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. "As elaborated in the complaint we filed earlier today, Sinclair's entire course of conduct has been in blatant violation of the merger agreement and, but for Sinclair's actions, the transaction could have closed long ago".

Mike Huckabee, (R-Ark.), and FBN's Maria Bartiromo and Kristina Partsinevelos on Tribune Media terminating its merger agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Sinclair did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Kern said he would continue to run the company until Tribune reached a "permanent state".

Tribune general counsel, Eddie Lazarus, told analysts on the same call the company was seeking a "large number" in damages from Sinclair.

In its hearing designation order, the FCC raised questions about potential "misrepresentation or lack of candor" in Sinclair's agreement to sell WGN-TV for $60 million to a Maryland auto dealer and longtime business associate of Sinclair Executive Chairman David Smith. "Instead, Sinclair fought, threatened, insulted, and misled regulators in a misguided and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to retain control over stations that it was obligated to sell".

In a surprise move in July, however, Pai said he had "serious concerns" and suggested Sinclair was trying to hide anticompetitive practices in its proposed purchase and divestiture of certain stations.

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