Tribune calls off $3.9 billion Sinclair media deal

Trump angry with FCC chair over Sinclair deal

Trump angry with FCC chair over Sinclair deal

Tribune Media announced in a statement (via CNN) that it has terminated its merger agreement with the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Tribune, based in Chicago, claimed Thursday that Sinclair used "unnecessarily aggressive and protracted negotiations" with the Department of Justice and FCC over regulatory requirements and that it refused to sell the stations it needed to. But Pai, the FCC chairman, said in a statement at the time that the "evidence we've received" suggests that Sinclair could still be able to control some of "those stations in practice, even if not in name, in violation of the law".

The FCC reportedly concluded that Sinclair may have misrepresented or omitted some facts in its applications in an attempt to get around the FCC's ownership rules.

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

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Separately, on Tuesday, Democratic members of Congress asked the FCC to investigate reports that "Sinclair Broadcasting illegally exercised control over the advertising activities of Tribune Media Company".

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

But Sinclair, the lawsuit alleges, went so far as to invite legal action from the Justice Department, which was also reviewing the deal, going "so far as to threaten to file its own lawsuit against DOJ". The matter was then referred to an administrative law judge to consider, which analysts said would effectively kill the deal.

Approval of the merger was widely considered inevitable because Trump's FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, is notoriously anti-regulation and pro-merger, and had rolled back ownership rules for broadcast media companies past year in a manner that seemingly paved the way for the deal.

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The deal, as originally announced in May 2017, would give Sinclair control of 233 TV stations, including 42 Tribune-owned stations and a presence in such top markets as NY and Chicago. A copy of the lawsuit will be posted on the Tribune Media website,, as soon as it has been made publicly available by the Court.

Tribune's reversal Thursday came after federal regulators questioned Sinclair's honesty last month and requested a hearing about the matter.

To stay under the national TV ownership cap, Sinclair had proposed shedding 23 stations, including 14 owned by Tribune and nine of its own. The Tribune deal, plus other pending acquisitions, will give Sinclair a total of 233 TV stations. "This uncertainty and delay would be detrimental to our company and our shareholders. and, by way of our lawsuit, intend to hold Sinclair accountable". Sinclair defended the script as a way to distinguish its news shows from unreliable stories on social media. The transaction would have left Sinclair with more than 200 stations.

Sinclair also has become a significant outlet for conservative perspectives.

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