Sinclair buying rival TV operator Tribune for $3.9 billion

In this Monday, May 1, 2017, file photo, the WGN Radio sign appears on the side of Tribune Tower, in downtown Chicago. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

NEW YORK (WCMH/AP) — Sinclair Broadcast Group, one of the nation’s largest local TV station operators, wants to get even bigger. The company announced Monday that it will pay about $3.9 billion for Tribune Media, adding more than 40 stations including KTLA in Los Angeles, WJW in Cleveland and WGN in Chicago.

Tribune also has stakes in the Food Network and job-search website CareerBuilder.

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of an extensive strategic review, which has delivered significant value to our stockholders,” Tribune CEO Peter Kern said in a press release.

Sinclair already has 173 stations around the country, including WSYX in Columbus and WKRC in Cincinnati. The Tribune deal, plus other pending acquisitions, will give Sinclair a total of 233 TV stations. But the Hunt Valley, Maryland-based company said it may sell some stations to comply with Federal Communications Commission rules.

Sinclair’s move on Tribune appears to have been sparked by potential rule changes under a federal regulator recently appointed by President Donald Trump. Reports of a possible Sinclair bid emerged about a month after proposals to dial back regulations that kept a lid on such deals were floated by Ajit Pai, the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

Sinclair said it will pay about $43.50 in cash and stock for each share of Tribune, an 8 percent premium from Tribune’s closing price of $40.29 on Friday.

Shares of Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. rose 95 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $37.90 in morning trading Monday. Tribune Media Co. shares rose $2.56, or 6.4 percent, to $42.85.

Tribute spokesman Gary Weitman declined to comment to The Associated Press. Spokespeople for Sinclair, based in Hunt Valley, Maryland, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Sinclair recently hired former Trump spokesperson and Soviet-born Boris Epshteyn as its chief political analyst. The company has built a reputation for pushing a conservative agenda on viewers, including centrally-produced editorials aired on its affiliates across the country.

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