FCC chair casts doubt on Sinclair-Tribune deal

An acquisition involving two companies that own multiple Missouri media properties may be in jeopardy.

The fate of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s proposed purchase of Tribune Media is in question after Ajit Pai, the Federal Communication Commission chairman, called for the deal to be heard in front of an administrative law judge.

Pai said he has “serious concerns” about the deal because Sinclair continued operating TV stations after it claimed it would divest from them. It had been expected that Sinclair would sell some of its stations to comply with FCC regulations and antitrust laws.

Pai’s statement was a serious blow to the $3.9 billion deal, which has been playing out for more than a year, and could affect several media properties across Missouri.

Sinclair’s properties include KBSI Fox 23 and WDKA 49, in Cape Girardeau; KCRG CBS 13, in mid-Missouri; KHQA CBS 7, in Hannibal; KTVO ABC 3, in Kirksville; and KDNL ABC 30, in St. Louis.

Tribune Media owns 42 stations, including KTVI Fox 2 and KPLR CW 11, in St. Louis, and WDAF Fox 4, in Kansas City.

Sinclair is the largest TV broadcaster in the U.S. If the Justice Department and FCC approve the deal, Sinclair would own or operate 215 television stations in 102 markets covering more than 70 percent of the country.

In a statement, Sinclair said it was “shocked and disappointed” by Pai’s announcement.

Read more: St. Louis Business Journal


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