Nation & World

Sinclair to sell TV stations as part of Tribune deal

Des Moines outlet, but not Cedar Rapids stations, on the list

Sinclair Broadcast Group's headquarters. Sinclair Broadcast Group will divest 23 TV stations aimed at clearing the path for its merger with Tribune Media, the company announced Tuesday, April 24, 2018. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Sinclair Broadcast Group's headquarters. Sinclair Broadcast Group will divest 23 TV stations aimed at clearing the path for its merger with Tribune Media, the company announced Tuesday, April 24, 2018. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/TNS)

WASHINGTON — Sinclair Broadcast Group on Tuesday said it will sell 23 television stations to several companies after completing its $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media.

The sales are to obtain the necessary governmental approval of the Tribune transaction, the company said, as it has worked for months to win regulatory approval for the deal.

The company said it now expects to close the deal near the end of June.

Sinclair plans to sell the stations to Standard Media Group, Des Moines-based Meredith Corp., Howard Stirk and Cunningham Broadcasting and another party to be announced, the company said.

The stations include 14 Tribune stations — including WGN-TV in Chicago and stations in Denver, Cleveland and San Diego — and nine Sinclair stations, including KDSM in Des Moines as well as outlets in Salt Lake City; and Seattle.

Sinclair also owns KGAN and KFXA in Cedar Rapids, which are not included in the proposal.

Sinclair, which already is the largest U.S. broadcast station owner, announced plans last May to acquire Tribune’s 42 TV stations in 33 markets, extending its reach to 72 percent of American households.

It was not immediately clear what percentage of the country it would reach after the divestitures.

The deal needs to be approved by the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission.

Sinclair said after closing the Tribune deal it will own, operate and/or provide services to 215 television stations, including servicing some of the stations it is divesting.

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Earlier this month, 12 U.S. senators asked the FCC to investigate Sinclair for “deliberately distorting news” after local news anchors at Sinclair stations around the country were told to read company-mandated scripts. The scripts criticized “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country.” Sinclair has defended the scripts.

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