Sinclair close to buying rival TV operator Tribune

"The Tribune stations are highly complementary to Sinclair's existing footprint", said Sinclair Chief Executive Chris Ripley in a statement.

It was reported that two other TV station group owners were in the mixed to make bids for Tribune: Nexstar Media and 21st Century Fox/Blackstone venture.

With Tribune, Sinclair finally gets stations in the three biggest TV markets: KTLA-TV in Los Angeles, WPIX-TV in NY and WGN-TV in Chicago.

The company announced Monday that it will pay about $3.9 billion for Tribune Media and its 42 stations, which include WGHP/FOX8 in the Triad, KTLA in Los Angeles, WGN in Chicago and WPIX in NY. Sinclair owns four radio stations, a multicast network, a cable network, and "is the leading local news provider in the country, as well as a producer of sports content", according to their website.

The deal is expected to close during the fourth quarter of this year, Sinclair officials said. The transaction will be funded through a combination of cash on hand and debt. Sinclair said that it may have to divest stations in markets where it now owns stations in order to adhere to FCC ownership requirements and antitrust regulations. Tribune Media Co. shares rose $2.56, or 6.4 percent, to $42.85. Adding Tribune's stations will also expand Sinclair's reach into major cities that it didn't have a presence in before, such as NY and Chicago.

The deal wouldn't have been feasible until last month's decision by the Federal Communications Commission to ease limits on TV-station ownership.

If history is any guide, the Smith brothers who together control Sinclair Broadcast will also pull news coverage on those stations in a more conservative direction and explore giving full rein to those beliefs on a national platform.

As Tribune reporter Michael Hawthorne reminded on Monday morning, Sinclair agreed with the Trump campaign past year "to try and secure better media coverage", according to Politico.

Tribune Media Company, the parent company of WNEP-TV, will be acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group, according to a news release issued Monday.

Sinclair already has 173 stations around the country, including WSYX in Columbus and WKRC in Cincinnati.

Tribune shares closed at $40.29 on Friday. With the addition of Tribune stations, Sinclair would reach 72% of US households, according to president and CEO Chris Ripley.

The deal will help Sinclair better compete with Fox.

  • Neal Todd