Sinclair Broadcasting Will Buy Tribune Media For $3.9 Billion Plus Debt

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter. Together the companies would own a large chunk of Fox broadcast affiliates around the country. Completion of the transaction is subject to approval by Tribune's stockholders, as well as customary closing conditions, including approval by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and antitrust clearance.

Sinclair Broadcast Group confirmed Monday that it will acquire Tribune Media for roughly $3.9 billion. It also owns cable's WGN America, digital multicast network Antenna TV, and minority stakes in the TV Food Network and CareerBuilder.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, named by President Donald Trump in January, is planning to take a new look at the current overall limit on companies owning stations serving no more than 39% of US television households.

"This is a transformational acquisition for Sinclair that will open up a myriad of opportunities for the company", said Chris Ripley, president and CEO of Sinclair.

The combination of Sinclair and Tribune would be a competitive blow to Fox because the added scale would give Sinclair more leverage in negotiations to carry Twenty-First Century Fox's (fox) local networks.

Tribune's portfolio would help expand Sinclair's already vast network of 173 stations in 81 USA markets and marks the largest acquisition for the Baltimore-based company.

Fox never submitted a bid, according to a source familiar with the matter. It emerged from bankruptcy in late 2012 and completed a spinoff of its newspaper assets in 2014 into a company now known as Tronc Inc TRNC.O .

Tribune Media was created in 2014 when the broadcast group spun off from Tribune's publishing arm.

In March, CEO Peter Liguori stepped down from the position, which he held since 2013.

Adonis Hoffman, former chief of staff to FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and chairman of Business in the Public Interest, said any divestitures by Sinclair would create opportunities for other groups "looking to bulk up".

Earlier this year, Sinclair formed a wireless initiative with Nexstar Media Group, another large broadcaster, and between the two of them they have airwaves reaching 86% of the country. 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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