Published in Breaking News

Fox 17 to remain under Tribune ownership after media giant scraps deal with Sinclair

BY Friday, August 10, 2018 12:40pm

GRAND RAPIDS — The dissolution this week of a proposed mega-merger between two media giants means the local Fox affiliate will remain under its existing corporate ownership, at least for now.

Kim Krause, vice president and general manager at Fox 17 WXMI, confirmed to MiBiz in an email on Friday morning that the station “as of this time” will remain a part of Chicago-based Tribune Media Co.

Under plans for the now-cancelled $3.9 billion merger between Tribune and Hunt Valley, Md.-based Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., the station would have been among a group of 10 properties set to be sold to New York City-based investment group Standard Media Group LLC.

It remains unclear whether the station could still be sold to Standard Media in the future. According to prior statements, the deal to sell the 10 stations to Standard Media was contingent on the completion of the Sinclair-Tribune acquisition.

Krause directed all further questions to a Tribune spokesperson, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday morning.

An executive at Standard Media also did not respond to a request for comment.

The controversial merger between Sinclair and Tribune would have created the largest broadcast group in the country, covering 72 percent of the U.S. and achieving annual revenues of $4.6 billion, as MiBiz previously reported.

Sinclair attempted to push the deal to a close and secure regulatory approval by selling off the 10-station portfolio to Standard Media.

However, the deal began to unravel last month when Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), announced “serious concerns” about the merger, particularly related to the agency’s mandates that regulate media ownership in nearby markets.

Those concerns led Tribune to terminate the deal on Thursday morning and file a breach of contract lawsuit against Sinclair. In the lawsuit, Tribune claimed that the company exerted too much effort to maintain control over the stations it was obligated to sell, leading to a drawn-out regulatory review process.

“This uncertainty and delay would be detrimental to our company and our shareholders,” Tribune CEO Peter Kern said in a statement. “Accordingly, we have exercised our right to terminate the Merger Agreement, and, by way of our lawsuit, intend to hold Sinclair accountable.”

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