In order to have government regulators approve the merger with Tribune, Sinclair agree to withdrew controversial plans to sell stations in three markets including Chicago
FCC votes to send matter to Administrative Law Judge
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Aren’t you sick of this already?
After being smacked down by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai over a scheme to buy a few stations “potentially involving deception”, Sinclair Broadcasting announced it was once again refiling its proposal to purchase Tribune Media.
The latest proposal involves Sinclair purchasing WGN-TV outright instead of buying it and then selling it to a Maryland car dealer for $60 million – far below the station’s value – while continuing to operate it.
Sinclair also withdrew plans for a third-party contractor (Cunningham Broadcasting) with connections to the company to purchase Tribune’s stations in Dallas and Houston, both CW affiliates.
Instead, Houston’s KIAH and Dallas’ KDAF, a former Fox owned-and-operated station, would be put into a trust Sinclair is creating and be sold later.
This marks the sixth time Sinclair has filed a proposal derivative from the original deal, announced on May 8, 2017. Tribune Media owns WGN-TV, WGN-AM, and CLTV in Chicago -all and 39 other stations plus cable network WGN America would be acquired in with several divestitures to Fox and Standard Media in order to get under the 39 percent ownership coverage cap.
In its filing, Sinclair still claimed no wrong doing on its part. In a statement Wednesday, Sinclair said: “There can be no question regarding misrepresentation or character given that Sinclair has fully disclosed all terms of all aspects of the transactions it has proposed. The FCC’s reported concerns with sales to certain parties have been eliminated in light of the withdrawals of the applications relating to Dallas, Houston and Chicago. Accordingly, we call upon the FCC to approve the modified Tribune acquisition in order to bring closure to this extraordinarily drawn-out process and to provide certainty to the thousands of Tribune employees who are looking for closure.”
Sinclair responded on Monday to Pai’s suggestion the deal would be sent to an administrative law judge, indicating it would fight the decision and have the deal approved, no matter how long it took. Many accuse Sinclair of circumventing around the 39 percent ownership coverage cap with its “sidecar” deals.
On Wednesday evening, the FCC unanimously voted to adapt a Hearing Designation Order on the merger. Details on the order is expected to be released on Thursday. Reuters is reporting the deal has indeed been sent to an administrative law judge, despite Sinclair’s actions on Wednesday.
While the threat of sending the proposal to an administrative law judge could have been enough to derail the merger – history showed it has to other deals in the past, Sinclair is hell bent on getting this merger approved – no matter what their analysts or shareholders think. And if the FCC or the law judge still rejects the deal, Sinclair could still pursue legal action, delaying the process even more.
In other words, the Sinclair scam artists are pushing forward and are betting a certain imbecile in the White House – who once praised Sinclair while slamming the big three broadcast network news operations – orders officials to approve the deal.
(Updated at 9:04 p.m.)