TV Groups Slapped With Antitrust Lawsuit

An Alabama law firm that advertised on television is accusing the six biggest owners of TV stations — Sinclair Broadcast Group, Tribune Media, Gray Television, Hearst Corp., Nexstar Media Group and Tegna — of scheming to artificially inflate the price of ads, according to a new antitrust class action lawsuit.

FCC Accuses Sinclair Of ‘Lack of Candor’

The FCC on Thursday published its order calling for a hearing on the proposed $3.9 billion Sinclair Broadcast Group acquisition of Tribune Media. Sinclair revised the proposed deal on Wednesday after FCC Chairman Pai expressed concerns over some station spinoffs. To no avail. In today’s order, the FCC said: “Material questions remain because the real party-in-interest issue in this case includes a potential element of misrepresentation or lack of candor that may suggest granting other, related applications by the same party would not be in the public interest.” That could spell big trouble for the station group that goes far beyond the current proposed deal.

Bad News For Sinclair: FCC Sends Deal To Judge

The FCC said late on Wednesday it had voted unanimously to refer Sinclair Broadcast Group’s $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media to an administrative law judge, a blow to the firms’ chances of winning approval. The decision came the same day Sinclair announced it was changing some of the divestitures proposed in the deal; it withdraw the proposed sales of KDAF Dallas and KIAH Houston to Cunningham Broadcasting.

Sinclair Amends Spinoffs To Save Tribune Deal

In response to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s concerns, the company says it will withdraw the proposed sales of KDAF Dallas and KIAH Houston to Cunningham Broadcasting.

Tribune ‘Disappointed’ By FCC’s Sinclair Issues

It says it “expects to work with the FCC to explore ways to address the concerns identified,” adding that “until we have reviewed the order it is difficult to explain the potential issues it might create for the transaction.”

FCC: Sinclair-Tribune May ‘Involve Deception’

A draft FCC order seen by Reuters on Monday said that Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.’s application for approval to purchase Tribune Media may “involve deception.” The order said that “Sinclair’s actions here potentially involve deception” and noted possible “misconduct.”

Sinclair-Tribune Pushback Mounts At FCC

Comments opposing the Sinclair-Tribune deal were piling up in the FCC’s docket Thursday (July 12), the deadline for replies to comments on Sinclair’s fifth version of the deal. Many appeared to be form comments generated by a call to arms (headlined “Stop Trump TV!”) by activist group Democratic Underground. More than half of the 25 comments on the first page of the electronic docket had the same first paragraph beginning with, “I urge the FCC to deny the merger petition ….”

Sinclair Spinoffs Risk New Scrutiny

Sinclair Broadcast Group’s bid to become a broadcasting powerhouse by purchasing Tribune Media Co. hinges on spinning off TV stations to comply with U.S. limits on broadcast ownership. Yet its proposals to sell stations from Pennsylvania to California are drawing fresh scrutiny, as critics including business rivals say some of the transactions are designed to evade the ownership rules.

Pai Rejects Hill Request For Sinclair Review

A dozen senators called on the FCC to investigate Sinclair Broadcast Group for distorting the news, and to pause its review of the pending acquisition of Tribune Media. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai immediately shot down the request, saying it would conflict with his commitment to the First Amendment and freedom of the press.

Senators Ask FCC For Sinclair Probe

A dozen senators wrote to the FCC today to urge the agency to investigate Sinclair Broadcast Group and pause its proposed merger with Tribune Media.

LOS ANGELES TIMES EDITORIAL

OKing Sinclair-Tribune Would Be Indefensible

Los Angeles Times: “The real issue is whether any company should be able to amass control over so much of the public airwaves.”

ACA To FCC: Not So Fast On Sinclair-Tribune

The cable group is concerned that Sinclair could use “after-acquired clauses” in Indianapolis and Greensboro, N.C., to raise retrans rates.

JESSELL AT LARGE

Sinclair Creating Bad Optics For Pai

Sinclair’s behavior in trying to merge with Tribune is doing it — and the entire broadcasting industry — no favors. By dragging out this process, and by pressing for every advantage, Sinclair is making life difficult for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who has been broadcasters’ best friend in that job in decades.

DMA 3

Sinclair Plans To Sell WGN To Smith Partner

FaderSinclair Broadcast Group wants to sell WGN-TV Chicago to a Maryland auto dealer but would remain in control of the station in what critics say is a bid to skirt ownership limits and win federal regulatory approval for its proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media. Steven Fader, CEO of Atlantic Automotive,is a longtime business partner of Sinclair Executive Chairman David Smith.

QUARTERLY REPORT

Tribune 4Q TV-Entertainment Rev Drops 8%

The drop to $486 million was driven by a $66 million decrease in net political advertising revenue, partially offset by an increase in net core ad revenue, a 22% increase in retrans and 3% higher carriage fee money.

Sinclair’s Tribune Plans Draws Criticism

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.’s proposal to sell but still operate TV stations in New York, Chicago and other cities to win regulatory approval of its $3.9 billion purchase of Tribune Media Co. has drawn derision from critics of media consolidation.

Fox Finalizing Deal With Sinclair For 6 Stations

21st Century Fox is closing in on an agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group to buy at least six TV stations, a transaction that stems from Sinclair’s pending $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media. The deal is understood to encompass Tribune-owned Fox affiliates in five markets — Seattle, Denver, Salt Lake City, Sacramento and Cleveland — as well as Tribune’s Miami CW affiliate. The pact also ensures the Sinclair will lock in long-term Fox affiliation deals for dozens of its other Fox affiliates.

UPDATED WEDNESDAY, 8:25 P.M. ET

Sinclair Unveils Tribune Merger Spin-Off Plan

Sinclair will sell WPIX New York and WGN Chicago — as well as KSWB San Diego to smooth the way for its purchase of Tribune’s stations, the station group says in a filing. But the stations will remain in the Sinclair orbit. A footnote to the filing says Sinclair “will enter into an option and services agreement(s)” with the buyer or buyers of the stations. In addition, it will spin off one of the two top-four stations it would own post-merger in seven markets — Seattle, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Oklahoma, Grand Rapids, Richmond and Des Moines.

TVN FOCUS ON SPOT REVENUE

Big Data Portends Big Changes To Spot Buys

Ad sellers — broadcasters and cable networks — are wading deeper into data pools so that they are helping advertisers and their agencies program-target their buys and avoid undervaluing their time.

Sinclair May Try To Keep More Tribune TVs

With anticipation that the Department of Justice will eventually give approval to Sinclair Broadcast Group’s acquisition of Tribune Media, what’s being watched now is just what stations the combined broadcasting giant will be forced to sell to secure a government green light. Recent filings with the FCC suggest that it will seek waivers to own more than one Top-4 station in a market.

COMMENTARY BY TOM DELAY

Why Trump Should Block Sinclair-Tribune

Former congressman Tom DeLay: “I appreciate the conservative perspective of Sinclair, and support its First Amendment right to espouse its views. We should tread carefully when regulations could limit speech. But the spectrum Sinclair utilizes to broadcast is limited and this transaction would set a terrible precedent by opening the door for ABC, CBS and NBC to also buy many more TV stations. At that point, nothing can stop liberal Northeast corporate executives from telling homes in the heartland what to think.”

Sinclair Inches Closer To Merger With Tribune

The U.S. Department of Justice is very close to blessing the merger of Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media as regulators appear to be satisfied with a plan that would have the pair divest of some of their TV stations. The $3.9 billion deal, once blessed by the DOJ, would still need the FCC’s approval.

FCC Pauses Review Of Sinclair-Tribune Deal

The FCC on Thursday suspended its review of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s proposed purchase of Tribune Media to give Sinclair more time to make the spinoffs and showings needed to bring the deal into compliance with FCC ownership rules.

Fox In Talks To Buy Sinclair-Tribune Spinoffs

21st Century Fox wants to buy 10 TV stations from the Sinclair Broadcast Group, presumably the 10 that Sinclair has to sell to win regulatory approval of its acquisition of Tribune Media.

Liberals Wary Of Sinclair Deal As 2020 Nears

Sinclair Broadcast Group’s proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media would give the conservative-leaning company control of an additional TV station in Des Moines, Iowa — one of the most important presidential primary media markets in the country.

PlayStation Dropping Tribune Fox Affiliates

On Friday night, PlayStation Vue started to notify subscribers that Tribune’s Fox affiliates were being dropped from the OTT service after failing to “come to an agreement on terms” with the station group.

Sinclair-Tribune Likely To Win DOJ Approval

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Justice Department has signaled it is willing to approve Sinclair Broadcast Group’s planned takeover of Tribune Media. but with a condition: It wants the companies to sell off roughly a dozen television stations. DOJ told the companies the deal as currently structured raises antitrust problems and that 12 to 13 station sales are necessary to alleviate concerns about competition in markets where a combined Sinclair-Tribune would otherwise have a commanding presence. Journal subscribers can read the full story here.

McCaskill Raises Sinclair-Tribune Concerns

Sen. Claire McCaskill has written FCC Chairman Ajit Pai voicing concerns about the “negative impact” on the St. Louis media market from the proposed merger of Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media. “If the Sinclair-Tribune transaction is approved as proposed it would leave three stations in the hands of one company, including two of the top four stations in the market,” she wrote.

Sinclair Set To OK Antitrust Deal For Tribune

Sinclair Broadcast Group is close to accepting a remedy proposed by the Department of Justice to allow its $6.6 billion buyout of Tribune Media to gain regulatory approval. The feds want Sinclair, whose 193 TV stations spread over 89 markets makes it the largest TV station owner in the country, to sell 13 Tribune stations, sources say.

Station Groups Aim To Streamline Ad Buying

Nexstar, Sinclair, Tribune, Tegna launch TV Interface Practices (TIP), a standards-based project to bring streamlined business interfaces to local TV. They are inviting broadcasters, advertisers and others to join to improve competitiveness with other media.

Tribune Donates $50,000 For Puerto Rico Recovery

The Tribune Media Co. Charitable Foundation is donating $50,000 to two organizations dedicated to assisting the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricanes Irma and María. The organizations, Hispanic Federation and Juntos Y Unidos Por Puerto Rico, will each receive a grant of $25,000. “Tribune Media Co. prides itself on being responsive to both the […]

Dems Want Pai-Trump-Sinclair Investigation

Senators led by Cantwell and Udall say there’s a troubling timeline and call for Pai to recuse himself from Sinclair-related business until the matter is fully investigated.

QUARTERLY REPORT

Tribune 3Q TV-Entertainment Rev Dips 4%

The decrease to $451 million is caused mostly by political. Factoring that out results in a revenue increase of 3% driven by a 33% gain in retrans money.

JESSELL AT LARGE

Why Ruddy’s Wrong About Sinclair-Tribune

Chris Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax Media, recently spelled out all the reasons he’s against the Sinclair-Tribune merger now before the FCC, except the real one. He’s way off base on almost every single claim. Here’s my point-by-point rebuttal.

Congressman Presses Sinclair On Merger

In a letter to Sinclair Broadcast Group CEO Chris Ripley, Democratic Rep. Tony Cardenas asked tough questions about the Sinclair-Tribune merger.

Durbin Wants FCC To Reject Sinclair-Tribune

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is urging the FCC to block the proposed acquisition of Tribune Media Co. by Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns WICS-TV in Springfield. He also said it appears that the commission is “going out of (its) way to clear barriers to the deal by rolling back any rule that may pose a problem to it,” and that the acquisition would “threaten diversity and localism in broadcasting, ignore the unique concerns and interests of local audiences, and harm competition.”

COMMENTARY BY CHRISTOPHER RUDDY

Sinclair-Tribune Could Damage Local News

Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy: “While President Trump has been condemning “fake news,” his very own FCC is pursuing policies that will lead to the greatest concentration of television media power in history.”

Sinclair’s Right-Wing Critics Turn Up Volume

The fiery editorials of Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. chief political analyst Boris Epshteyn will be beamed into seven in 10 American living rooms if the company is allowed to complete a merger that would transform it into a nationwide conservative TV juggernaut. But Sinclair’s proposed $3.9 billion purchase of Tribune Media Co. is encountering opposition from unlikely foes: media stalwarts of the right.

Tribune Stockholders Approve Sinclair Merger

At a special meeting held today, the stockholders of Tribune Media Co. voted overwhelmingly to approve the previously announced acquisition of the company by Sinclair Broadcast Group. “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 Peter Kern, Tribune Media’s CEO. “We look forward to continuing our work with Sinclair toward the closing of this deal.”

FCC Puts 2-Week Hold On Sinclair-Tribune

The FCC is pausing its review of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s proposed merger with Tribune Media to allow more time for the filing of public comments. The FCC is more than halfway through its 180-day timeline for review of the merger, which would create a broadcasting giant with 223 TV stations serving 108 markets. The FCC’s Media Bureau said it is pausing the review for 15 days until Nov. 2.