Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Sinclair Revises TV Station Divestiture Plan
Still trying to appease regulators who worry that Sinclair Broadcast will own stations that reach more than 39 percent of all American homes should it acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, the companies said Tuesday they have agreed to sell 23 stations to several competitors.
Sinclair and Tribune have been negotiating a sale of up to 10 stations to 21st Century Fox, and those talks are still proceeding. While the conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch was not listed as one of the buyers Tuesday, Sinclair and Tribune listed seven stations as being sold to a company to be named later.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, one of the larger transactions disclosed on Tuesday had Standard Media Group paying $441.7 million for nine TV stations owned by either Sinclair or Tribune, most of them Fox affiliates.
Other buyers of stations owned by Sinclair or Tribune include Howard Stirk, Cunningham Broadcasting and Meredith Corp., while Tribune sold WGN-TV in Chicago to an entity called WGN-TV LLC.
Sinclair had hoped to close its acquisition of Tribune before the end of 2017, though regulators have stalled amid complaints from activists — including some who don't like Sinclair's conservative editorials — so that now the merger should close before June.
"The sales are part of Sinclair's larger acquisition of Tribune Media Company, in order to obtain necessary governmental approval of the Tribune transaction," the companies said in a press release Tuesday.
Sinclair in February unveiled a plan to sell two top-market Tribune stations — WPIX-TV New York and WGN-TV Chicago — in order to comply with federal ownership rules, but with the caveat that the friendly buyers would allow Sinclair to continue to operate the stations. Variety reports that plan reportedly drew major pushback from the Justice Department and FCC, both of which are reviewing the deal.
On Tuesday, Sinclair identified 23 stations that would be sold to secure federal approval of the deal. The revised plan still calls for Sinclair to sell WGN-TV but continue to operate the station. The sale of WPIX, however, is off the table. Critics said Sinclair’s deal was a brazen run around the federal station ownership cap, right down to the shockingly low pricetags of $15 million for WPIX and $60 million for WGN. It’s unclear if the sale price for WGN-TV has changed.
Posted 3:51:00 AM