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Tribune Media ‘assessing all options’ after FCC puts brakes on Sinclair deal

A man was charged with grabbing a WGN reporter during a May 23, 2020, broadcast in Shorewood.
Sinclair Broadcast Group said Wednesday it plans to revise its deal to buy Tribune Media, including Chicago’s WGN-TV. | Rahul Parikh/Sun-Times

Executives at Tribune Media said Wednesday that they are “assessing all of our options” after the Federal Communications Commission ordered hearings that could delay Sinclair Broadcast Group’s deal to acquire the company, which includes Chicago’s WGN-TV.

“Tribune Media has now had the opportunity to review the FCC’s troubling Hearing Designation Order. We are currently evaluating its implications and assessing all of our options in light of today’s developments,” Tribune Media said in a statement.

“We will be greatly disappointed if the transaction cannot be completed, but will rededicate our efforts to running our businesses and optimizing assets. Thanks to the great work of our employees, we are having a strong year despite the significant distraction caused by our work on the transaction and, thus, are well-positioned to continue maximizing value for our shareholders going forward,” the statement said.

The regroup comes after FCC Chairman Ajit Pai ordered a new round of hearings — a process that could drag on for months — saying he had “serious concerns” about the $3.9 billion Sinclair-Tribune deal. The FCC claimed in a Thursday order that Sinclair “did not fully disclose facts” about the agreement, according to a Reuters report.

Sinclair said Wednesday it plans to revise its deal by selling Tribune Media-owned stations in Dallas and Houston.

WGN-TV and WGN-AM are among Tribune Media’s 42 local TV and radio stations. The deal was announced in May 2017 but still needs approval from the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission.

Sinclair is already the largest operator of local TV stations in the U.S.