Tribune ends Sinclair merger bid and files suit over losses

Omarosa Manigault-Newman

Omarosa Manigault-Newman

If no divestitures were made, "the combined company would reach 72 percent of United States television households and would own and operate the largest number of broadcast television stations of any station group", the FCC notes.

Tribune Media Co terminated its $3.9billion deal to be acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group and filed suit, the company said on Thursday, after regulators objected to the acquisition that had received support from US President Donald Trump.

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.

Tribune has been considering its options since the Federal Communications Commission voted last month to send Sinclair's application to a review by an administrative law judge, a move that typically signals the end of such mergers.

Tribune has filed a lawsuit against Sinclair for breach of contract.

"This uncertainty and delay would be detrimental to our company and our shareholders".

"We've done everything we could to assist Sinclair in getting through the regulatory process, and it's been a huge undertaking for our company to manage through this prolonged exercise, while also keeping our business running strong", Tribune Media CEO Peter Kern said during an earnings call Thursday morning.

Had the merger with Tribune Media been approved, Sinclair would have completely dominated the local news market.

The Sinclair Broadcast Group was its roots in the early 1970s, when Julian Sinclair Smith operated an FM radio station and a TV station in Baltimore.

Approval of the merger was widely considered inevitable because Trump's FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, is notoriously anti-regulation and pro-merger, and had rolled back ownership rules for broadcast media companies a year ago in a manner that seemingly paved the way for the deal.

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

The lawsuit seeks compensation for all losses Tribune Media incurred during the attempted transaction.

Tribune pointed to the same problems that the FCC found in Sinclair's proposal to divest some stations in order to stay under federal ownership limits.

Tribune Media Co.is on the hook for a $135 million breakup fee, according to the agreement reached past year. A copy of the lawsuit will be posted on the Tribune Media website, www.tribunemedia.com, as soon as it has been made publicly available by the Court.

Kern said he would continue to run the company until Tribune reached a "permanent state". "Obviously, it tends to be even worse if the deal doesn't happen because you have to recover and recharge the engine".

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