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Sinclair countersues Tribune Media over failed merger

Tribune Media, the owner of WGN, called off its merger with Sinclair Broadcast Group on Thursday, Aug. 9 2018.| Sun-Times file photo

Sinclair Broadcast Group on Wednesday denied all allegations it breached a merger proposal with Chicago-based Tribune Media and countersued the parent of WGN.

Tribune Media on Aug. 9 called off its $3.9 billion buyout by Sinclair.

Sinclair wanted Tribune Media’s 42 TV stations, including WGN, and had agreed to dump almost two dozen of its own to score approval by the Federal Communications Commission. The combined company could have rivaled the reach of Fox News.

Tribune Media claimed Sinclair used “unnecessarily aggressive and protracted negotiations” with the Department of Justice and FCC over regulatory requirements. Tribune Media sued Sinclair for $1 billion.

“We were extremely disappointed that the Tribune transaction was terminated,” Sinclair President and CEO Chris Ripley said in a news release. “We are likewise disappointed that Tribune, through its meritless lawsuit, is seeking to capitalize on an unfavorable and unexpected reaction from the Federal Communications Commission to capture a windfall for Tribune.”

Sinclair’s countersuit alleges Tribune Media didn’t negotiate in good faith and was looking for a way out of the deal. Tribune Media disputed the claim.

“Sinclair’s counterclaim to Tribune’s complaint is entirely meritless and simply an attempt to distract from its own significant legal exposure resulting from its persistent violations of Tribune’s contractual rights,” Tribune Media said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.

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Contributing: The Associated Press