Sinclair Broadcast Group announced today that it has officially closed its previously announced acquisition of Bonten Media’s TV stations for $240 million.
With the deal done, Sinclair adds 14 TV stations in eight markets to its already huge broadcast television footprint. The Bonten deal wraps as Sinclair is still pursuing regulatory approval for its $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media and its 42 television stations.
Should the Tribune deal be approved, Sinclair will hold 233 stations in about 108 markets, according to Moody’s.
As part of the Bonten Media deal, Cunningham Broadcasting Corp. bought the membership interest of Esteem Broadcasting. Cunningham assumed the joint sales agreements under which Sinclair will provide services to four additional stations, according to a news release.
While the Bonten Media deal went off mostly without a hitch for Sinclair, the broadcaster’s bid for Tribune Media has taken much more heat from opponents of the merger.
Last month, Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), Mike Doyle (Pa.) and Diana DeGette (Colo.) called out a number of press reports and asked that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai address them.
The arguments in the letter (PDF) largely pertain to Sinclair’s proposed acquisition of Tribune Media, but also cover Sinclair’s acquisition of Bonten Media, the ATSC 3.0 rule-making process and the FCC’s interactions with the Donald Trump administration and Sinclair.
Sinclair has also received pushback from groups like the NCTC and the Coalition to Save Local Media—a group including the American Cable Association, Common Cause, the Competitive Carriers Association and Dish Network.
After Sinclair last month responded to petitions to deny the merger, arguing the deal will benefit consumers and better position broadcast television to compete with MVPDs, programmers and streaming services, the Coalition to Save Local Media blasted the broadcaster’s response.
“Sinclair-Tribune has failed to explain how this multi-billion-dollar merger is in the public interest. This merger continues to raise substantial legal and policy questions—including compliance with Federal Communications Commission rules—that remain unanswered by Sinclair-Tribune,” the group wrote, adding that the merger would give the combined companies massive reach that could be used to enforce higher prices and fewer choices for consumers.