Entertaiment

Tribune terminates merger agreement with Sinclair, files suit for breach of contract

Tribune terminates merger agreement with Sinclair, files suit for breach of contract

Sinclair already own 39% of the TV stations in the United States, and this would have raised that to 42%.

"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 can not be completed within an acceptable timeframe, if ever", Peter Kern, Tribune Media's chief executive officer, said in the statement.

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.

Sinclair raised hackles in March when it had all the anchors of its daily news shows across the country recite the exact same script, which adopted the tone and rhetoric of Trump, accusing other media outlets of spreading "biased and false news".

Sinclair Broadcast Group had offered to buy the Chicago company's 42 TV stations and had agreed to get rid of stations in some markets to gain regulatory approval.

"So sad and unfair that the FCC wouldn't approve the Sinclair Broadcast merger with Tribune".

Tribune seeks about $1 billion of lost premium to Tribune's stockholders and additional damages in an amount to be proven at trial, according to a copy of the lawsuit filed in Delaware.




The merger would have created one of the largest broadcasting companies in the US.

The FCC concluded unanimously that Sinclair may have misrepresented or omitted material facts in its applications in order to circumvent the FCC's ownership rules and, accordingly, put the merger on indefinite hold while an administrative law judge determines whether Sinclair misled the FCC or acted with a lack of candor.

Under the terms of the deal, Tribune and Sinclair had the right to call off the merger without paying a termination fee if it was not completed by August 8.

Ted Rouse, a Chicago-based partner with Bain & Company specializing in mergers and acquisitions, said it may be hard for Tribune Media to return to business as usual after 15 months in limbo. It announced plans a year ago to merge with Chicago-based Tribune, a deal that would have given Sinclair access to 72 percent of American households.

The announcement brings an end to a merger that was thought to have a staunch champion in FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, whose tenure had been marked by a deregulatory agenda that had cleared out restrictions against consolidation in the media industry.

It's already been more than a year after the merger was announced; the two companies had previously said they would close the deal by the end of 2017.


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