Sinclair submits new Tribune acquisition plan outlining proposed duopolies

FCC commissioners (FCC)
Sinclair has submitted a revised Tribune acquisition proposal to the FCC. (FCC)

Sinclair is updating its proposal to purchase Tribune Media’s TV stations for $3.9 billion and including details about duopolies it wants to maintain following the merger.

According to an FCC filing, which was spotted by Broadcasting & Cable, Sinclair is now seeking to own two of the top four stations in the Greensboro-High Point Winston Salem, N.C., Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, Penn., and Indianapolis markets. The company also wants to retain both of its stations in Portland, Ore.

The FCC last year adjusted its rules governing broadcast ownership including the elimination of the Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership Rule, the Radio/Television Cross-Ownership Rule and the Television Joint Sales Agreement Attribution Rule. Also, the FCC voted to get rid of the eight-voices rule, which bars an entity from owning two stations in one market unless eight independent broadcasters would remain.

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The FCC will review the potential duopolies on a case-by-case basis.

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Sinclair is still planning a number of TV station divestitures in order to comply with the 39% national ownership cap for broadcasters. According to the report, Sinclair plans to sell off WGN-TV in Chicago, WPIX-TV in New York and KSWB in San Diego. The company is also looking to sell one or more stations in Seattle, Wash.; St. Louis, Mo.; Salt Lake City, Utah; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Greenboro-High Point-Winston Salem, N.C.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Richmond, Va.; and Des Moines-Ames, Iowa.

The Sinclair-Tribune deal is still under review at both the FCC and the U.S. Justice Department, which is analyzing the deal for any antitrust concerns.

Earlier this month in an SEC filing, Sinclair and Tribune said they had agreed to not consummate the merger before Jan. 30, 2018, but now that deadline has been moved to Feb. 11, 2018. Tribune and Sinclair also agreed to provide 10 days’ notice to the DOJ before closing the merger.

The development arrived after the FCC paused its review process last month.