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$3.9 billion buyout of Tribune by Sinclair ends in acrimony

$3.9 billion buyout of Tribune by Sinclair ends in acrimony

The media company, which has enjoyed the support of President Donald Trump, appeared to be cruising toward approval by USA regulators.

Tribune Media is suing Sinclair Broadcast Group over the way it handled divesting TV stations ahead of their planned merger.

But last month, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, long considered friendly to Sinclair, raised "serious concerns" about whether the deal would serve the public interest and questioned Sinclair's candor in describing the deals to sell some stations.

According to Tribune, Sinclair committed to use reasonable best efforts to obtain regulatory approval as promptly as possible, instead, Sinclair engaged in unnecessarily aggressive and protracted negotiations with the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission over regulatory requirements. On Thursday, Kern said that any further delays would hurt his company - so the Tribune board made a decision to spike the deal.

As for Tribune's lawsuit, Ripley said Sinclair "fully complied with our obligations under the merger agreement and tirelessly worked to close this transaction".

Sinclair wanted to purchase Tribune Media's 42 stations in 33 markets, but there was a problem.

The Maryland-based company did not immediately respond early Thursday to a request for comment from The Associated Press. "Accordingly, we have exercised our right to terminate the Merger Agreement, and, by way of our lawsuit, intend to hold Sinclair accountable", he added.

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The Sinclair-Tribune mega-merger appears to be dead.

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

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 told employees in an email reviewed by Reuters that it was not clear what was next for Tribune.

"We think that it is likely that another suitor will emerge for Tribune in the near-term", Kenneth Duffel, an analyst with KDP Investment Advisors, said in a note.

"We're obviously disappointed", Tribune CEO Peter Kern said on a conference call Thursday morning. By one estimate, the combined company would have owned stations in almost 3 out of 4 US households, controlling an enormous amount of the content Americans see on local stations. Subsequently, the FCC voted to subject Sinclair's divesture plan to a hearing before an administrative law judge, further delaying completion of the transaction.

A dozen Senate Democrats said in April Sinclair was deliberately distorting news coverage by forcing local stations to read scripts that criticized what it described as "the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country".