Tribune Media pulls out of Sinclair Broadcast merger

Tribune backs out of Sinclair merger | TheHill

Tribune terminates merger agreement with Sinclair, files suit for breach of contract

The $3.9 billion acquisition was announced in May after Sinclair won the rights to Tribune Media at auction, which would have given Sinclair ownership or control of television stations in 72 percent of US markets, including majors like New York City, Chicago and Miami.

Tribune Media is the parent company that owns WHNT News 19 and several other local television stations across the country.

Not only is it pulling out of the deal, but Tribune said it will sue Sinclair, arguing Sinclair's negotiations with the US Justice Department and FCC were "unnecessarily aggressive". "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".

Tribune, which owns FOX59, also said that it is filing a lawsuit against Sinclair, citing breach of contract.

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Reporters at stations owned by Sinclair - which include almost 200 local affiliate news channels across the country branded as ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and more - have been forced to run segments that attack Democratic politicians, discredit the FBI's investigation of Russian Federation, call other media outlets "false news", and even run a regular commentary show by a former Trump adviser.

Sinclair could not be reached immediately for comment.

The $1 billion lawsuit, filed in Delaware Thursday, said Sinclair knew it was taking a substantial risk by concealing from the FCC information about its relationships with certain buyers, putting undue pressure on the regulatory process and putting the merger at risk.

Sinclair also has become a significant outlet for conservative perspectives. Sinclair has been scrutinized for its ties to the Trump administration.

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

Kern told employees in an email reviewed by Reuters that it was not clear what was next for Tribune.

On a conference call this morning, Kern told analysts that the company was disappointed the merger couldn't be consummated and said it had been a "huge undertaking" to assist Sinclair with trying to win approval for the transaction while maintaining steady operations at the company.

The Maryland company said Thursday in a prepared statement that the Tribune lawsuit is "entirely without merit". Sinclair defended the script as a way to distinguish its news shows from unreliable stories on social media.

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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. Subsequently, the FCC voted to subject Sinclair's divesture plan to a hearing before an administrative law judge, further delaying completion of the transaction.

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