Tribune backs out of $3.9 billion buyout by Sinclair

Sinclair Broadcast Group’s headquaters in Hunt Valley Md

"Accordingly, we have exercised our right to terminate the Merger Agreement, and, by way of our lawsuit, intend to hold Sinclair accountable".

Tribune Media is withdrawing from its $3.9 billion buyout by Sinclair and it's filing a lawsuit against it, citing breach of contract.

In the lawsuit filed Thursday in Delaware Chancery Court, Tribune Media alleges Sinclair breached its contractual obligations "in spectacular fashion" in a bid to maintain control of WGN-TV and other stations. Sinclair also refused to sell certain stations that would have helped the deal secure regulatory approval, Tribune claimed in a news release.

Public Knowledge, an advocacy group that has been critical of the FCC under Pai, has been against a tie up between Sinclair and Tribune from the start.

According to Tribune, Sinclair's entire course of conduct has been in blatant violation of the merger agreement and without Sinclair's actions the transaction could have closed long ago.

"This uncertainty and delay would be detrimental to our company and our shareholders". The deal may also have hit a roadblock with the Justice Department, which reportedly was investigating whether Sinclair and Tribune violated antitrust laws by coordinating TV ad sales efforts in advance of the proposed merger. Tribune is seeking an amount "including but not limited to approximately $1 billion of lost premium to Tribune's stockholders and additional damages in an amount to be proven at trial".

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was initially seen as favoring the union, which had the blessing of the Trump administration.

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

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As we previously reported, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said he had "serious concerns" about the purchase, including that Sinclair would divest ownership of some stations but keep control of others.

Sinclair has become a significant outlet for conservative perspectives.

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.

"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.

The deal could still come back together but for now, it looks to be dead. "But we expect more efforts from the media titans in the future to tighten their grip on the information marketplace".

Tribune Media is a parent company of WGN-TV.

"Tribune's decision to pull the plug on the Sinclair merger is great news for consumers who will avoid paying the higher pay-TV rates the deal would have caused", ACA CEO Matthew Polka said. "Broadcasters are supposed to serve their local communities".

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