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Tribune Calls Off $3.9 Billion Sale To Sinclair

Tribune Calls Off $3.9 Billion Sale To Sinclair

Early Thursday morning, Tribune Media announced the termination of the proposed merger agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group. Tribune said that Sinclair "refused to sell stations in the markets as required to obtain approval, and proposed aggressive divestment structures and related-party sales that were either rejected outright or posed a high risk of rejection and delay - all in derogation of Sinclair's contractual obligations".

By filing a lawsuit against Sinclair, Kern said, Tribune intends to "hold Sinclair accountable".

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

The company was admonished by media watchdogs in April after dozens of Sinclair news anchors read an identical script expressing concern about "one-sided news stories plaguing the country".

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.'s bid to become a nationwide broadcast powerhouse collapsed as Tribune Media Co. withdrew from a planned merger that drew the ire of federal regulators who questioned Sinclair's honesty. The matter was then referred to an administrative law judge to consider, which analysts said would effectively kill the deal.

The company is "open to all opportunities" in terms of industry consolidation or remaining independent, Tribune Media Chief Executive Officer Peter Kern told investors on a call on Thursday.

Tribune filed the lawsuit against Sinclair, the largest US broadcast station owner, alleging material breach of contract over its failure to win over regulators 15 months after the merger was first announced.

The FCC vote means that the "merger can not be completed within an acceptable timeframe, if ever", Tribune CEO Peter Kern said.

Last month, the Federal Communications Commission voiced concerns that Sinclair may have attempted to skirt ownership rules, and ordered the potential transaction to go through an administrative hearing. It would have been able to expand rapidly into numerous new markets with the Tribune acquisition. On Thursday, Kern said that any further delays would hurt his company - so the Tribune board chose to spike the deal. Sinclair defended the script as a way to distinguish its news shows from unreliable stories on social media. Odds may have seemed to favor Sinclair partly because of the broadcaster's conservative leanings and Sinclair Chairman David Smith's meetings with President Donald Trump.

After that, the Justice Department started an investigation about whether talks between advertising teams at TV Station groups violated antitrust laws.

"Liberal Fake News NBC and Comcast gets approved, much bigger, but not Sinclair", he added. "Instead, Sinclair fought, threatened, insulted, and misled regulators in a misguided and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to retain control over stations that it was obligated to sell".

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