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Full Version: Sinclair/Tribune merger denied
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Many of us know Tribune Media for WGN, KTLA, or WPIX -- at times, superstations from Chicago, Los Angeles, or New York City. Now that most of us no longer get the genuine WGN TV feed (with Chicago-area sports and the excellent news feed -- and living in Michigan, I loved getting Tom Skilling's weather report because it would show our weather forming off to the west as a variant of Chicago weather) it's not so interesting.

Sinclair Broadcasting Company, infamous for propaganda about as blatant as that of the old Soviet Union, if for the Hard Right in America, had been trying to take over Tribune Media (a fairly neutral news source) and transform it into a conduit for its right-wing propaganda. Well. "Stinking Liar" Broadcasting will not be taking over WGN, KTLA, or WPIX -- or 39 other TV stations, some of them bug players in some major TV markets (the biggest markets in which Tribune Broadcasting isn't a local broadcaster are Detroit and San Francisco) -- according to a decision by the FCC:

Quote:FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced Monday he has "serious concerns" about Sinclair Broadcast Group's acquisition of Tribune Media, saying he would send the transaction through a lengthy administrative process often viewed as a deal-killer.

As originally proposed in May 2017, the $3.9 billion deal would see conservative-leaning Sinclair, already the largest U.S. TV station owner, gobble up 42 Tribune stations in key markets like New York and Chicago, adding to its existing footprint of more than 170 stations and giving the company access to nearly three-quarters of U.S. households.

But the regulatory review dragged on for more than a year, as Sinclair revised the deal several times, offering to sell off 21 stations in an effort to gain government approval. Critics took issue with some of the proposed sales, which were so-called sidecar arrangements that would allow Sinclair to keep a stake in the revenue and programming of the spun-off stations, as POLITICO reported on May 30. Another two of the sales would have been to a company with close ties to Sinclair.

Pai said the divestitures were a sticking point for the agency.

"Based on a thorough review of the record, I have serious concerns about the Sinclair/Tribune transaction," the chairman said in the statement. "The evidence we’ve received suggests that certain station divestitures that have been proposed to the FCC would allow Sinclair to control those stations in practice, even if not in name, in violation of the law."

The FCC's decision is a significant blow for Sinclair, which has been been a frequent target for Democrats and liberal groups disturbed by reports that it favors President Donald Trump in its coverage via "must-run" segments pumped to its network of stations.

It’s also a surprising turn of events for Pai, who was nominated for the agency's top post by Trump. The chairman had earlier revived a regulatory loophole known as the UHF discount seen as critical to the Sinclair deal. It permits broadcasters to count only half the reach of some stations when calculating their national reach — and allowed Sinclair to avoid vastly exceeding federal limits on media ownership with the deal.
Tribune pulls out of Sinclair deal as conservative broadcaster's expansion plan collapses


08/09/2018 07:29 AM EDT

Updated 08/09/2018 08:11 AM EDT

Tribune Media on Thursday withdrew from its $3.9 billion acquisition at the hands of Sinclair Broadcast Group and announced it's suing the conservative mega-broadcaster for breach of contract.

The company said Sinclair failed to uphold its contractual obligation to make reasonable best efforts to get regulatory sign-off as quickly as possible. "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," Tribune said in a statement.

Despite the enthusiastic backing of President Donald Trump, Sinclair's bid to massively expand by rolling up Tribune met opposition across the political spectrum. The deal's collapse is a victory for the company's many liberal critics, but also conservative rivals like Fox News and Newsmax, whose CEO Chris Ruddy raised his misgivings directly with an unmoved Trump.


“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 cannot be completed within an acceptable timeframe, if ever,” said Tribune CEO Peter Kern in a statement.

“This uncertainty and delay would be detrimental to our company and our shareholders. Accordingly, we have exercised our right to terminate the Merger Agreement, and, by way of our lawsuit, intend to hold Sinclair accountable,” he continued.

Trump had slammed the FCC's move in a tweet July 24.

“This would have been a great and much needed Conservative voice for and of the People,” Trump tweeted. “Liberal Fake News NBC and Comcast gets approved, much bigger, but not Sinclair. Disgraceful!"

When asked about the president’s tweet during a congressional oversight hearing, Pai said, “I stand by our decision.”