Sinclair Acquires Tribune for $3.9 Billion; Gets Stations in Top 5 Markets

By Chris Ariens 

Sinclair Broadcast Group will acquire Tribune Media Company giving the Baltimore-based station group its first properties in the nation’s top 5 markets, including storied stations WGN in Chicago, KTLA in Los Angeles and WPIX in New York. The deal is valued at $3.9 billion, plus $2.7 billion in debt.

When the deal closes Sinclair will own, operate and/or provide services to 233 television stations in 108 markets, though the company will likely have to sell some stations to meet already-relaxed FCC conditions.

Divestitures are almost certain in Seattle-Tacoma (Sinclair owns KOMO-ABC and KUNS-Univision, Tribune owns KCPQ-FOX); and Salt Lake City (Sinclair owns KUTV-CBS and KJZZ, Tribune owns KSTU-Fox), with other markets also getting a close look.

“This is a transformational acquisition for Sinclair that will open up a myriad of opportunities for the company,” commented Chris Ripley, President and CEO of Sinclair. “The Tribune stations are highly complementary to Sinclair’s existing footprint and will create a leading nationwide media platform that includes our country’s largest markets.”

Sinclair has been on a buying spree for years and this deal is its largest. “Television broadcasting is even more relevant today, especially when it comes to serving our local communities,” added David Smith, Executive Chairman of Sinclair.

WGNSinclair“We are extremely proud to join Sinclair, and we’re excited that Tribune stockholders and employees will have the opportunity to participate in the long-term growth of the combined company,” said Tribune CEO Peter Kern. Of Tribune’s 42 stations, 14 are FOX affiliates, 12 are CW stations, followed by 6 CBS affiliates, 3 each ABC and MyNetwork, 2 NBC stations, and 2 independents.

Tribune Media was spun off from Tribune in 2014 when the company split its newspaper and broadcasting divisions. The newspaper division renamed itself Tronc last year, meaning the Tribune name as a corporate entity, in use since 1847, will be no more.

WGN reported on the pending deal this morning on its early morning show.

21st Century Fox made a run for Tribune but faced even greater regulatory hurdles because of its ownership of many big market stations.