Verizon Fios TV, Atlantic Broadband and Google Fiber have all reached agreements for retransmission and carriage with Tribune’s stations as well as cable network WGN America. Terms of the deals, which affect more than 3.6 million subscribers, were not disclosed.
Tribune Broadcasting’s 42 local stations include many powerhouses in major markets such as New York, LA and Chicago. That has made its parent, which emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2013, an appealing takeover target in a rapidly consolidating local station segment.
Sinclair’s bid to roll up Tribune ran aground in the early summertime over a set of “sidecar” deals it had set up, which regulars determined were phony. The companies then filed dueling lawsuits over the dissolution of the deal.
While that drama took the No. 1 owner of local stations out of the conversation, No. 2 group Nexstar has talked openly of making a bid for Tribune. Also, 21st Century Fox had previously made an offer on Tribune with private-equity assistance. Among network owners, its string of stations piles up the most revenue and will be an important piece of the slimmed-down Fox entity that remains after Disney acquires the bulk of the company.
Investors appear to support the direction of things at Tribune. Its shares have risen 15% since mid-July, when the Sinclair acquisition officially hit the wall. They are up a fraction today, at $38.13, the middle of their 52-week range.
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