Tribune calls off $3.9 billion deal with Sinclair


Approval of the merger was widely considered inevitable because Trump's FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, is notoriously anti-regulation and pro-merger, and had rolled back ownership rules for broadcast media companies previous year in a manner that seemingly paved the way for the deal.

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.

"In light of (the FCC order), this transaction can not be completed within an acceptable time frame, if ever", Kern said. "Millions of people spoke out against this deal, and that public pressure was instrumental in keeping the spotlight on Sinclair". "Accordingly, we have exercised our right to terminate the merger agreement, and, by way of our lawsuit, intend to hold Sinclair accountable", he said.

Last month, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai expressed "serious concerns" regarding this merger, which would have created one of the largest broadcasting companies in the country and further consolidated the power of Sinclair, which owns almost 200 local stations throughout the US.

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Not only is it pulling out of the deal, but Tribune said it will sue Sinclair, arguing Sinclair's negotiations with the US Justice Department and FCC were "unnecessarily aggressive".

Sinclair Broadcast Group wanted the Chicago company's 42 TV stations and had initially agreed to dump nearly two dozen of its own to score approval by the FCC. In addition, Tribune said, Sinclair outright refused to sell station in some markets. The so-called sidecar agreement would have kept Sinclair essentially in charge of the Chicago station, with an option to buy it back for the same price within eight years.

The Sinclair Broadcast Group was its roots in the early 1970s, when Julian Sinclair Smith operated an FM radio station and a TV station in Baltimore.

In addition to its merger plans, Sinclair also made headlines in April, when it ordered anchors at dozens of its TV stations to read the same speech during their broadcasts, warning against "biased and false news".

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On Thursday, Kern said the FCC order, which has been the death knell for previous media mergers, was the final straw for Tribune Media.

Kern said he would continue to run the company until Tribune reached a "permanent state". The FCC in July referred the merger to an administrative judge hearing, and called into question whether some of Sinclair's proposed divestments were a "sham".

To attempt to satisfy the FCC, Sinclair had said last month it would not divest WGN and would seek to put the two Texas stations into a divestiture trust to be sold and operated by an independent trustee. It could have had a new show on WGN America or had an existing show moved there.

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