Sinclair Broadcasting (SBGI) on Monday said it had secured a deal to acquire Tribune Media (TRCO) in a transaction that would catapult the owner of the largest number of local TV stations into a segment of the business it has never entered: big cities.
"This acquisition will create a leading media platform that includes our country's largest markets and will further our commitment to connecting people with content everywhere", Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley said in an email to employees. He said the acquisition will also "create substantial synergistic value through operating efficiency, revenue streams, programming strategies and digital platforms".
Should Sinclair's acquisition of Tribune close-and the uncertainty over that issue could persist, as the FCC is still reviewing its ownership policies-the company would equal Salem Media as the most prolific United States corporate player in this space in the past seven-plus years.
Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. would own or operate more than 200 stations following the deal.
Sinclair has 173 stations, including KUTV in Salt Lake City, KOMO in Seattle and WKRC in Cincinnati. The San Diego-based company will also cooperate with an ongoing antitrust investigation into the packaged seafood industry, the federal agency said. Tribune Media operates 42 stations and reaches more than 43% of the nation.
Shares of Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. fell 82 cents, or 2.2 percent, to close Monday at $36.13.
As for Sinclair, they gave it all a positive spin by pushing the news through the ever-reliable media-speak word-salad generator.
The deal will cost Sinclair about $3.9 billion. Expected because the new FCC majority is foaming at the mouth to rubber-stamp more massive media mergers; and disappointing because Sinclair is not known for the best journalism in the land, to put it mildly. The company restructured after a wrenching four-year bankruptcy.
Tribune CEO Peter Liguori, who joined Tribune in 2013, stepped down in March. He has not been replaced.
Sinclair was Founded in 1986, and became publicly traded in 1995. Consolidation might be a free market mechanism, but it comes with costs to the free market as well, usually in the form of cronyism and rent-seeking regulation that distorts both markets and politics.
Hoffman sees the deal as a way for the two broadcast groups to get the kind of scale that will provide more "balance" in retransmission deals with large MVPDs.