Tribune Backs Out Of Buying Out Trump-Friendly Sinclair

Trump angry with FCC chair over Sinclair deal

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was initially seen as favoring the union, which had the blessing of the Trump administration. The lawsuit seeks compensation for all losses incurred as a result of Sinclair's material breaches of the Merger Agreement.

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.

'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 Sinclair-Tribune mega-merger appears to be dead. The commissioners called into question whether some of Sinclair's proposed divestments were a "sham" because they were being sold to people so closely aligned with Sinclair and in agreements that would still allow Sinclair to operate the stations. In addition, Tribune said, Sinclair outright refused to sell station in some markets.

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 breakup of the deal is a stinging defeat for Sinclair, owner of dozens of local television stations. Tribune is seeking an amount "including but not limited to approximately $1 billion of lost premium to Tribune's stockholders and additional damages in an amount to be proven at trial".

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The American Cable Association (ACA), which represents small- and medium-sized cable companies, also cheered Tribune's decision. 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.

Sinclair did not immediately comment on Thursday, but said last month "at no time have we withheld information or misled the FCC in any manner whatsoever".

Hunt Valley, Md. -based Sinclair agreed to buy Tribune Media's 42 TV stations in May 2017, creating what would be the largest ownership group in the US, with 233 stations. In the case of Sinclair-Tribune, there is no such fee attached to the merger agreement.

FCC Chairman in July expressed "serious concerns" over the deal, saying Sinclair would still control the stations it divested in practice.

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. It could have had a new show on WGN America or had an existing show moved there.

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