Tribune Media scraps Sinclair deal

Tribune Media has terminated its merger agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group and has sued the right-leaning TV station owner - accusing it of failing to give its best effort to gain regulatory approval for the deal, Tribune said on Thursday.

In a press release, Tribune says "The lawsuit seeks compensation for all losses incurred as a result of Sinclair's material breaches of the merger agreement", going on to say... Sinclair already own 39% of the TV stations in the USA, and this would have raised that to 42%.

The Sinclair-Tribune mega-merger appears to be dead.

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 a year ago in a manner that seemingly paved the way for the deal.

Reporters at stations owned by Sinclair - which include almost 200 local affiliate news channels across the country branded as ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and more - have been forced to run segments that attack Democratic politicians, discredit the FBI's investigation of Russian Federation, call other media outlets "false news", and even run a regular commentary show by a former Trump adviser.

"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", Pai said.

"In light of (the FCC order), this transaction can not be completed within an acceptable time frame, if ever", Kern said.

"This uncertainty and delay would be detrimental to our company and our shareholders". By one estimate, the combined company would have owned stations in almost 3 out of 4 US households, controlling an enormous amount of the content Americans see on local stations.

Like many media stories these days, this one also has a political angle: In recent years, Sinclair and the Smith family have shown favor to President Trump and backed conservative messages.

"While what has apparently killed this deal was Sinclair's pattern of deception at the FCC - a fact that should affect its future dealings at the Commission - the deal was bad on its own merits, and this latest development is good for consumers", said Phillip Berenbroick, senior policy counsel at the organization.

"This deal would have contributed to the trend where "local" news and "local" programming is created or scripted out of town and is indistinguishable from cable news", Public Knowledge Senior Policy Counsel Phillip Berenbroick said today.

The American Cable Association (ACA), which represents small- and medium-sized cable companies, also cheered Tribune's decision. "Broadcasters are supposed to serve their local communities".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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