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DOJ wants Sinclair to divest dozen stations to approve Tribune deal

The DOJ wants Sinclair Broadcasting Company to divest roughly a dozen local broadcast stations in competitive markets in order to get regulatory approval of its acquisition of Tribune Media Company, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: The full Tribune acquisition would give Sinclair, a conservative-leaning broadcasting giant, unprecented access to the local TV market — roughly 70% reach. The DOJ's request reflects antitrust concerns in key areas, like St. Louis and Salt Lake CIty, where Sinclair would expand its footprint should the deal go through, per WSJ.

Progressives argue that the deal as stands would give Sinclair unprecedented access to local media markets.

  • The current deal, if approved, would give Sinclair over 200 stations that reach about 72% of U.S. TV households in 81 markets.
  • After the deal, Sinclair would own at least one station in each of the nation's top five media markets: NYC, Los Angeles, Chicago, Phily and Dallas, per Axios' Kim Hart.

The deal, priced at $3.9 billion, still needs final approval from the FCC. That seems likely, given that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai eased media ownership caps earlier this year.