Against a backdrop of rising opposition to its proposed $3.9 billion merger with Tribune, at least one thing is looking up for Sinclair as Tribune shareholders “overwhelmingly” voted in favor of the deal.
Among Class A and Class B stockholders in the company, 73,566,589 votes for the merger while 182,337 voted against (341,265 abstained). Roughly 85% of Tribune shares were represented in the vote, which swung more than 99% in favor of the transaction.
"Today's vote is an important milestone in the merger process and confirms that Tribune stockholders strongly support this transaction and the value it delivers," said Tribune Media CEO Peter Kern in a statement. "We look forward to continuing our work with Sinclair toward the closing of this deal."
On the same day Tribune shareholders signed off, the FCC decided to extend the review period for the deal by about two weeks. The commission will continue accepting comment on the deal until Nov. 2, pushing back the original deadline set by the agency’s traditional 180-day shot clock on merger reviews.
The decision to pause the review arrived as groups like the Save Local Media Coalition—representing Dish Network, the American Cable Association, the Competitive Carriers Association and others—have heightened their rhetoric around the deal’s potential harm to public interest and media industry competition.
“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.
Meanwhile, conservative news publications Newsmax has ramped up its opposition to the deal, even recruiting Democratic lawyer and advocate David Goodfriend to pen an op-ed in which he concurs with Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy and accuses Sinclair of ushering out local sportscasters.
“That’s right, hell hath frozen over and pigs are flying overhead because Ruddy and Goodfriend agree that the Sinclair-Tribune merger would stink for everyone, especially sports fans who want nothing more than to watch their favorite local high school, college, and professional teams on television—with local sportscasters calling the plays,” Goodfriend wrote.