Tribune Media, the owner of local TV stations that has been slated to become part of Sinclair Broadcast Group in a $3.9 billion deal, said it is “evaluating” the implications of the FCC’s “troubling” new scrutiny of the merger.
The FCC voted 4-0 yesterday to put the review of the deal on hold given Chairman Ajit Pai’s “serious concerns” about the deals Sinclair had in place to divest of stations in Chicago and Texas. The commission’s order, released earlier today, asks an administrative law judge to rule on the matter — historically not a development that a transaction survives intact.
“Tribune Media has now had the opportunity to review the FCC’s troubling Hearing Designation Order,” Tribune’s statement said. “We are currently evaluating its implications and assessing all of our options in light of today’s developments.
“We will be greatly disappointed if the transaction cannot be completed, but will rededicate our efforts to running our businesses and optimizing assets. Thanks to the great work of our employees, we are having a strong year despite the significant distraction caused by our work on the transaction and, thus, are well-positioned to continue maximizing value for our shareholders going forward.”
In an email to employees, Tribune CEO Peter Kern urged the staff to try to stay focused on day-to-day business. Here is his email in full:
Earlier today, the FCC filed a Hearing Designation Order regarding the pending acquisition of our company by Sinclair Broadcasting. The Order formally places certain issues before the FCC’s administrative law judge for adjudication. While that process moves forward, our transaction remains on hold. In the meantime, we are assessing all of our options.
Following our review of the Order, we issued a statement via the attached press release.
As I said to you on Tuesday, thanks to your great work, we are having a strong year. Thank you again for your efforts. We’ll continue to keep you updated.