Tribune Media terminates $3.9 billion merger with Sinclair

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NEW YORK — Tribune Media has officially terminated its planned merger with Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. and said it will also be suing the company for breach of contract.

Tribune Media is the parent company of WREG News Channel 3 in Memphis.

The decision to cancel the business deal was made early Thursday morning, scuttling a $3.9 billion deal that would given the broadcasting group an even broader reach into American living rooms.

Tribune had been expected to walk away after the deal came under scrutiny from US regulators. The FCC in July referred the merger to an administrative judge hearing, and called into question whether some of Sinclair’s proposed divestments were a “sham.”

In a letter posted to its website, Tribune said Sinclair “engaged in unnecessarily aggressive” negotiations with the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission.  The company also “refused to sell stations” in order to get the merger to go through.

“In light of the FCC’s unanimous decision, referring the issue of Sinclair’s conduct for a hearing before an administrative law judge, our merger cannot be completed within an acceptable timeframe, if ever,” said Peter Kern, Tribune Media’s Chief Executive Officer. “This uncertainty and delay would be detrimental to our company and our shareholders. Accordingly, we have exercised our right to terminate the Merger Agreement, and, by way of our lawsuit, intend to hold Sinclair accountable.”

Analysts expect Tribune to seek another buyer.

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