Sinclair close to buying rival TV operator Tribune

Xavier Trudeau
Mai 16, 2017

But more troublesome for Fox, which has already lost Fox News boss Roger Ailes and personalities Bill O'Reilly and Megyn Kelly, may be Sinclair's political ties.

Current FCC rules limit the national TV audience that any single owner can reach at 39 percent.

Sinclair said it expects the deal to during the fourth quarter of this year. It also will also have the largest number of NBC and MyNetwork affiliates, Ripley said.

Tribune had been part of a larger organization that owned various media assets, including newspapers.

For Fox, holding some sway over Sinclair-Tribune's destiny will be critical if the local broadcaster develops further ambitions in providing nationwide TV programming, such as creating its own competitor to Fox News or acquiring football broadcast rights.

In order to comply with FCC ownership requirements and antitrust regulations, Sinclair may sell certain stations in markets where it now owns stations, but there was no immediate word on details linked to such a move, which would be determined through the regulatory approval process. Divestitures will be determined through the regulatory approval process. That deregulatory move made Sinclair's bid for Tribune fathomable, analysts have said.

"They believe people will watch the news for the value of the stories, not because of a particular anchor", Bogardus said. "The overlaps have no impact on overall competition". While Sinclair would sell if need be, the group sees swaps as "all the better", he said. Adding Tribune's stations will also expand Sinclair's reach into major cities that it didn't have a presence in before, such as NY and Chicago.

Gary Weitman, senior vice president of corporate relations at Tribune Media in Chicago, said, "We're letting the release speak for itself". Sinclair operates 173 stations in 81 small and medium-sized markets including Baltimore, Maryland, Wichita, Kansas and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Sinclair will pay $43.50 a share for the Chicago-based broadcasting company. Tribune Publishing past year became tronc Inc., short for Tribune online content.

In March, CEO Peter Liguori stepped down from the position, which he held since 2013. To lead its Sunday public affairs show, Sinclair hired former CBS correspondent Sharyl Atkisson, an investigative reporter whose scrutiny of the Obama administration won her the admiration of many conservatives. Consolidation might be a free market mechanism, but it comes with costs to the free market as well, usually in the form of cronyism and rent-seeking regulation that distorts both markets and politics.

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