Sinclair Broadcast has announced a deal to acquire 100 percent of rival U.S. local TV broadcaster Tribune Media for Dollars 3.9 billion.
In a release Monday morning, Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley called it "a transformational acquisition for Sinclair that will open up a myriad of opportunities for the company". 21st Century Fox, Rupert Murdoch's television and entertainment company, explored making a run at Tribune Media with the Blackstone investment group, but ultimately decided against making a bid, according to an executive there.
The deal became possible under a loosening of antitrust regulations this year kept a single company from controlling stations reaching more than 39 percent of the U.S. population.
The station gained nationwide fame when it broadcast live the frantic failed rescue attempts and tragic 1949 death of Kathy Fiscus, a little girl who fell into a well.
Tribune also has stakes in the TV Food Network and CareerBuilding as well as a variety of real estate assets.
But FCC Commissioner Michael Copps voiced his disapproval of the deal, "Sinclair's acquisition of Tribune Broadcasting is expected and disappointing".
To comply with FCC ownership requirements and antitrust regulations, Sinclair announced it may sell certain stations in markets where it now owns stations.
"Sinclair Broadcast Group, already the nation's largest local TV station operator, wants to be even bigger", begins an Associated Press report this afternoon.
Sinclair would be expanding its Central Valley footprint.
In Utah, Sinclair Broadcast Group owns KUTV, KJZZ and KMYU.
Tribune's portfolio would help expand Sinclair's already vast network of 173 stations in 81 USA markets and marks the largest acquisition for the Baltimore-based company.
Shares of Tribune rose as high as $43.80 in early NY trading Monday before the announcement.
A deal would give Baltimore-based Sinclair further control of the country's TV stations, which could be enabled by the FCC's recent vote to ease ownership caps. As with any merger of this size, the government has the ability to review and block the merger, permit it to proceed as proposed, or require Sinclair and Tribune to make certain changes in order for them to proceed.
JP Morgan was Sinclair's financial advisor, while Moelis & Company and Guggenheim Securities worked with Tribune.
The deal will help Sinclair better compete with Fox.