Sinclair Broadcast Company is reportedly close to a deal with the U.S. Justice Department to sell some television stations as a condition of approval for its $3.9 billion Tribune Media acquisition.
According to The New York Post, the DOJ is asking Sinclair to sell off 13 Tribune stations as part of the deal. Sinclair is reportedly working on getting that number down to 10. The report also says that Sinclair has already received offers for the stations from Nexstar Media and Tegna, the two largest television broadcast groups in the U.S. besides Sinclair and Tribune. Meredith has also reportedly submitted bids for the stations.
Sinclair will be buying Tribune’s 42 television stations in 33 markets, cable network WGN America, digital multicast network Antenna TV and a minority stake in Food Network.
In addition to the DOJ review, the FCC is currently reviewing the Sinclair-Tribune deal. Last month, the FCC paused the 180-day shot clock on the merger review to allow for further comments.
The move from the FCC came amid continued opposition toward the acquisition from pay TV operator Dish Network, public interest groups and lawmakers. A group representing Dish, as well as the American Cable Association and the Competitive Carriers Association, urged the FCC to intensify its focus during the extended comment period.
“Throughout this process, Sinclair and Tribune have failed to provide adequate justification that this merger is in the public interest and have not answered questions raised by the FCC and other parties in this proceeding. In this comment period, the FCC, as well as the Department of Justice and other parties, should pay close attention to the serious concerns that continue to be raised. This merger should be denied,” The Save Local Media Coalition said in an email statement.
Despite that opposition, Sinclair stills seems confident the deal will close. During last month’s NAB Show in New York, Sinclair CEO Christopher Ripley told an audience it was a matter of when, not if, the deal will be approved.