The Sinclair Merger Is Officially Dead. And Now Sinclair Is Getting Sued.

Tribune Media calls the negotiations “unnecessarily aggressive and protracted.”

President Trump expressed his displeasure online with the FCC's halt to the Sinclair merger.

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Less than a month after the Federal Communications Commission announced it would place the potential merger between Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media in front of an administrative judge for review, Tribune Media has withdrawn from the negotiations. To add insult to injury, the company is now suing the giant conservative media organization for breach of contract, noting that Sinclair’s negotiations with the government had been “unnecessarily aggressive and protracted.”

In a statement provided to the Washington Post, the Tribune pointed directly to Sinclair’s divestment plan, which had been rejected by the FCC, as rationale for the collapse, saying it “posed a high risk of rejection and delay—all in derogation of Sinclair’s contractual obligations.” Today’s action puts what appears to be an end to the drawn-out and acrimonious merger that would have placed Sinclair’s pro-Trump content in 72 percent of American homes.

The merger began to fall apart in late July when, after being poised to almost certainly approve it, the FCC reversed course citing “serious concerns” that the merger would be “in violation of the law.” The commission then moved it to an administrative law judge for review. The $3.9 billion deal would have been made possible by a change in the media ownership cap voted on by the FCC in November. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is currently under investigation by the Office of the Inspector General over the whether or not he pushed to reform the agency’s ownership caps specifically to benefit Sinclair. 

In July, Donald Trump, whose presidency has received favorable coverage from Sinclair’s network of affiliates, expressed his displeasure at the FCC’s decision.

 In an FCC oversight hearing, Pai told Congress that he had received no direct communication from the administration regarding the merger and “stood by” the decision.

Despite scrambling by Sinclair, which doubled its lobbying efforts in recent weeks, the deal has now dissolved before judicial review.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate