Sinclair to buy Tribune Media, expanding its local TV reach


TV station operator Sinclair Broadcasting has agreed to acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion in a move that would expand its conservative-leaning program service to the three largest USA markets.

On Monday morning the company agreed to buy Tribune Media for $43.50 per share, valuing the deal at $3.9 billion. Spokespeople for Sinclair, based in Hunt Valley, Maryland, couldn't be reached for comment.

This change has led to U.S. media companies trying to consolidate the country's TV station groups.

Officials with Sinclair said Monday they are willing to sell certain stations in markets where both the company and Tribune Media both have broadcast outlets. With the acquisition, Sinclair will have ownership or control of television stations in 72 percent of USA markets, including in major markets such as New York, Chicago and Miami, as well as 28 percent of Fox Broadcasting's affiliates.

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.

YouTube's new TV-style offering, for example, is only available in markets where its major network partners have affiliates, which provide local channels as part of the package.

Sinclair already owns two other television stations in Alabama. Shares of Sinclair were inactive in premarket trade, but have gained almost 11% in the year to date, while Tribune is up more than 15%. Sinclair also will assume about $2.7 billion in Tribune Media debt, according to the companies.

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Telecommunications company Sinclair Broadcast Group is close to an agreement to buy rival TV station operator Tribune Media.

Under terms of the deal, Tribune shareholders will get $35 in cash and 0.23 shares of Sinclair Class A stock for each share of Tribune stock they own.

"Today's announcement is the culmination of an extensive strategic review, which has delivered significant value to our stockholders", said Peter Kern, CEO of Tribune, in a statement.

Analysts have said that a possible change to the 39.6 percent national ownership cap for TV station owners could be one key move down the line to ownership restrictions being significantly eased or eliminated altogether.

It didn't take long for the Federal Communication Commission's loosening of TV ownership rules to impact the marketplace.

Sinclair will also gain Tribune's cable channel, WGN America; its 32% stake in the CareerBuilder web site; and its 31% stake in the Food Network.

Sinclair Broadcasting is on the verge of a deal to acquire Tribune Media, creating a local television behemoth, sources said Sunday.