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US: Sinclair execs had been warned Tribune merger faced problems

 |  August 13, 2018

According to the New York Post, Sinclair Broadcasting shouldn’t have been so surprised about its mega-merger with Tribune Media getting blocked, but insiders say government officials had made it clear that the deal was in trouble.

By early July, settlement talks with the Justice Department began to fall apart, with federal officials warning Sinclair execs that they planned to file a lawsuit blocking the merger if the Federal Communications Commission didn’t act first, sources close to the situation told The Post.

Federal officials also made it clear that the stumbling block was specifically Sinclair’s failure to comply with a legal requirement to sell TV stations in 10 major media markets to ease concerns about its growing dominance, sources said.

Some insiders are blaming Sinclair’s executive chairman, David Smith, who reportedly courted Donald Trump before and after he became president.

This spring, Smith got blasted for forcing local TV news anchors nationwide to read a script that echoed Trump’s attacks on the media, further stoking speculation that he was looking to the White House to grease the wheels for the Tribune deal.

“Smith always believes he can wriggle around the rules and he usually succeeds,” according to a top Sinclair investor who knows Smith well. “Someone finally said it was enough.”

Full Content: New York Post

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