Tribune backs out of $3.9 billion buyout by Sinclair

Tribune Media terminates merger agreement with Sinclair files lawsuit for breach of contract

Sinclair also refused to sell certain stations that would have helped the deal secure regulatory approval, Tribune claims.

The FCC reportedly concluded that Sinclair may have misrepresented or omitted some facts in its applications in an attempt to get around the FCC's ownership rules. "Accordingly, we have exercised our right to terminate the Merger Agreement, and, by way of our lawsuit, intend to hold Sinclair accountable".

President Trump blasted the FCC for not approving the merger, writing in a tweet that Sinclair and Tribune together "would have been a great and much needed Conservative voice".

Sinclair has been the subject of controversy for forcing its stations to air pro-Donald Trump editorials former Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn, and even requiring anchors on its stations to record anti-media mission statements.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

Tribune Media is withdrawing from its $3.9 billion buyout by Sinclair and it's filing a lawsuit against it, citing breach of contract.

In its hearing designation order, the FCC raised questions about potential "misrepresentation or lack of candor" in Sinclair's agreement to sell WGN-TV for $60 million to a Maryland auto dealer and longtime business associate of Sinclair Executive Chairman David Smith.

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SINCLAIR President/CEO CHRIS RIPLEY said, "It is unfortunate that TRIBUNE MEDIA COMPANY terminated our Merger Agreement".

Sinclair, a Maryland-based company which is the largest owner of local news stations in the USA, is notorious for its right-wing, pro-Trump slant, and its unusual system of distributing slanted "must-run" content to its local stations to work into their broadcasts.

"At no time have we misled the FCC in any manner whatsoever with respect to the relationships or the structure of those relationships proposed as part of the Tribune acquisition", the company said in a July statement.

Pai suddenly announced last month that he had "serious concerns" about the deal because Sinclair's divesture plan would still leave it effectively in control of TV stations in markets where its ownership exceeded FCC limitations, including in Chicago. For example, Pai led the charge on reinstating a type of agency accounting method that effectively helps broadcast companies own more stations while remaining beneath the national audience cap.

The FCC vote means that the "merger can not be completed within an acceptable timeframe, if ever", Tribune CEO Peter Kern said.

With the Tribune merger dead for good, Sinclair will look for other ways to acquire new stations.

'This uncertainty and delay would be detrimental to our company and our shareholders'. Sinclair defended the script as a way to distinguish its news shows from unreliable stories on social media. The so-called sidecar agreement would have kept Sinclair essentially in charge of the Chicago station, with an option to buy it back for the same price within eight years.

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