The FCC paused its review of Sinclair Broadcasting’s $3.9 billion purchase of Tribune Media, as the broadcasting giant considers divestures that would help the deal get the greenlight from regulators.
The commission last week said it would put its informal 180-day “shot clock” for the merger on hold until Sinclair files divestiture applications and the FCC has had a chance to fully review the offer.
The latest move follows a Jan. 4 meeting where Sinclair’s EVP and General Counsel Barry Faber and SVP of Strategy and Policy Rebecca Hanson discussed the proceeding with Matthew Berry, chief of staff to Chairman Ajit Pai, and Alison Nemeth, media adviser to Pai, according to an ex parte filing.
Sinclair executives discussed the status of the company’s divestiture plan in order to make it compliant with the national audience cap and local ownership rules, along with Sinclair’s communications with the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.
Faber told FCC representatives that Sinclair was “evaluating divestitures, as well as Top-4 showings to be made in amendments to the applications consistent with the recent changes to the ownership rules,” the filing shows.
Reports earlier last week indicated Sinclair is nearing a deal to sell 10 local television stations to Fox Broadcasting as part of its divestitures. The deal would include stations in markets where Sinclair would have two full-power stations following the Tribune acquisition, including Denver and Seattle, the Financial Times reported. Adding Sinclair stations would boost Fox’s local-TV ownership footprint by more than a third, and sources told the Times that Fox is hoping the deal would help monetize its NFL rights.
Filed Under: Industry regulations