FCC Opens Investigation Into Sinclair’s Tribune Deal

By Kevin Eck 

The Federal Communications Commission has opened an investigation into whether Sinclair Broadcasting mislead it over who had control over the stations it would pick up in its failed deal to buy Tribune.

The FCC asked Sinclair to answer a series of questions and provide documents concerning its bid to buy Tribune Media for $3.9 billion. In its letter to the station group, the FCC warns that “failing to respond accurately and completely to this (letter) constitutes a violation of the act and our rules.”

Tribune terminated the sale of 42 TV stations in 33 markets to Sinclair in August. Sinclair has 191 stations.


Broadcasting & Cable said the FCC is looking into whether Sinclair “was the real party-in-interest to the associated WGN-TV, KDAF, and KJAH applications, and, if so, whether Sinclair engaged in misrepresentation and/or lack of candor in its applications with the Commission.”

Sinclair has been criticized for its sidecar deals, where a large company like Sinclair uses a third party to buy a station, while maintaining control. Click here to read the FCC definition of a sidecar deal.

“Based on a thorough review of the record, I have serious concerns about the Sinclair-Tribune transaction,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said last year. “The evidence we’ve received suggests that certain station divestitures that have been proposed to the FCC would allow Sinclair to control those stations in practice, even if not in name, in violation of the law.”