Sinclair Broadcast is set to acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion in a deal announced on Monday, giving the conservative-leaning TV broadcaster almost three-quarters of the local market nationwide.
Tribune has 42 TV stations in more than 30 markets across the U.S., said the Los Angeles Times. Sinclair, based in Baltimore, is already the nation's largest broadcaster with 139 TV stations – many of them affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and the CW.
Sinclair will acquire 100 percent of Tribune’s shares – each valued at $43.50, according to CNBC.
“This is a transformational acquisition for Sinclair that will open up a myriad of opportunities for the company,” said Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley. “The Tribune stations are highly complementary to Sinclair’s existing footprint and will create a leading nationwide media platform that includes our country’s largest markets.”
The announcement came a day after Sinclair said it was close to finalizing the nearly $4 billion deal, said Reuters.
The Tribune purchase came down to an auction, according to CNN, in which Sinclair beat out TV ownership group Nexstar. 21st Century Fox and Blackstone Group reportedly explored a joint bid, partly to block Sinclair's move, but Fox ultimately didn't make a bid, according to sources familiar with the matter, said CNN.
The deal comes after the FCC voted to reverse a decision implemented last year that limited the number of television stations some broadcasters could buy.
Sinclair’s new acquisition creates a problem for Fox, as Sinclair just got a whole lot stronger at the negotiation table where it could have success in acquiring more of Fox’s affiliates.
It was something Fox Networks Group Chairman Peter Rice was aware of when he spoke at the Milken Institute Global Conference last week.
Rice said Fox was looking to acquire Tribune because “having more scale and more control of distribution is important.”
Tribune Media is the former parent company of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune which were spun off into a new company – now named Tronc Inc. – along with Tribune's other publishing properties in 2014.
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