Sinclair makes further changes to Tribune deal proposal

Sinclair TV station map
Sinclair TV station map (Sinclair)

Sinclair isn’t done making changes to its FCC proposal outlining the company’s $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media.

According to the latest version of the filing, obtained by Broadcasting & Cable, the biggest change in the new filing is that Sinclair will no longer seek permission to own two of the top four TV stations in the Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, Pennsylvania market.

When Sinclair filed with the FCC in February, it said that Sinclair owns CBS affiliate WHP-TV in Harrisburg and that Tribune owns Fox affiliate WPMT in York. At the time of that filing, Sinclair argued that the public interest benefits of owning both stations outweighed any potential reduction in competition.

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But now it seems that Sinclair will move ahead with divesting one of those stations, a move that could speed up the FCC review process for the acquisition.

Sinclair is still seeking permission to own two of the top four stations in Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, Pennsylvania and Indianapolis, Indiana.

RELATED: Sinclair submits new Tribune acquisition plan outlining proposed duopolies

According to Bloomberg, Sinclair has also moved ahead with sales agreements for the Chicago and New York City stations owned by Tribune.

Sinclair recently disclosed plans to offload both stations to bring postmerger Sinclair in compliance with the FCC’s national audience reach cap, which is set at 39%. In both instances, the stations are being sold to close associates of Sinclair Executive Chairman David Smith.

Sinclair is selling WGN-TV in Chicago for $60 million to a newly formed company headed by Steven Fader, CEO of Atlantic Automotive, a Maryland auto dealership group in which Smith holds a controlling interest. The company is also selling WPIX-TV in New York for $15 million to Cunningham Broadcasting, which is owned by the estate of Smith’s mother, Carolyn Smith.

Both deals include an option for Sinclair to buy back the stations at a later date.

Sinclair currently owns 193 television stations and would add another 42 through its deal to acquire Tribune.

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