Nexstar Media Group to acquire Tribune Media Company for $6.4 billion

WGN website

WGN website

Nexstar Media Group has reached a $4.1 billion deal to acquire Tribune Media, making it the country's largest operator of local TV stations. The agreement also includes outstanding Tribune Media debt, which brings the total to $6.4 billion. During a Sinclair earnings call, he told Wall Street analysts that the Dept. of Justice, which joins with the FCC in determining the fate of media mergers, "sooner or later is going to have to get in alignment with the marketplace" and "pay attention to what's happening in the real world". The size and scope of the company will surely spark opposition from media watchdog groups concerned about increasing concentration in the ownership of local TV stations. Tribune Media shares closed at 40.26 on Friday.

The merger agreement must still be approved by federal regulators, as well as shareholders.

Tribune Media owns or operates 42 local TV stations that reach 50 million households, as well as the national network WGN.

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Nextar outbid private equity firm Apollo Global Management with an all-cash offer that values Tribune at around $46.50 per share, according to Reuters.

"It might be different than the approach taken by the previous acquirer but it's not any different than the track record of success and credibility with these agencies that we've built over 20 years of doing business with them", Sook said.

Nexstar Media Group already claims a reach of 171 TV stations in 100 markets spanning almost 40 percent of all TV households. It also has a stake in the Food Network. Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers had raised questions about Pai's interactions with Sinclair officials and lobbyists as well as White House officials about the deal.

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Tribune emerged from bankruptcy in late 2012 and completed a spinoff of its newspaper assets in 2014. In many cases, Sinclair appeared to be entering into "sidecar" deals that would allow the company to sell stations but still maintain control of the station and reserve a buyback option for a later date.

Sinclair has a politically conservative streak in the news broadcasts of many of its stations, leading to U.S. President Donald Trump to criticize the FCC over the collapse of the acquisition of Tribune Media in the summer.

More TV broadcasting deals are excepted. Sinclair chairman and former CEO David Smith, pugnacious son of the company's founder, Julian Sinclair Smith, made his feelings about regulators clear in November 2017. "This would have been a great and much needed Conservative voice for and of the People", Trump wrote on Twitter last July.

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