Two of the biggest owners in the US are nearing a deal for a merger that would blow past ownership limits long set by communications regulators, several sources told The Post. Sinclair Broadcast Group appears ready to acquire all of Tribune Media Co. ’s assets, which include stakes in the Food Network and the WGN cable network, as well as 42 local TV stations nationwide, the sources said.
President Trump’s new Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is which currently prevent media companies from having stations reaching more than 39 percent of households. Sources say the two parties are waiting to see what the FCC does, but could also figure out ways to work around the existing rules. Sources believe the rule change could come as soon as this week or next.
The FCC chairman has said he believes the media ownership rules are ready for a and that the days of people waiting for the local news to update them at 11 p. m. date back to the era of “The Love Boat.
” “The talks have been going well. Sinclair expects to close soon,” a source close to the negotiations told The Post. “As soon as it gets the FCC it’s a done deal.
” The two parties are said to be discussing a price tag of $40 to $41 a share, consisting of an almost swap plus a small amount of cash. Tribune Media stock closed the Tuesday session at $38. 03.
Its shares have risen 18. 9 percent over the past month. News of the Sinclair approach on March 1 was .
Officials at Tribune declined to comment. Sinclair didn’t respond to requests for comment. The huge merger is coming together in part because of a close relationship between Sinclair’s executive chairman and former CEO, David Smith, and Trump, sources said.
Smith is a contributor to Republican causes. “David Smith goes to see Trump and Trump says, ‘What do you need to happen in your business?’ ” says a source familiar with the meeting. Another person confirmed that a meeting took place and potential FCC rule changes were discussed.
Trump appeared on TV stations 11 times in the final three months of the campaign. Some of those interviews aired in key swing states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. The two are said to have discussed whether the deal would pass muster under the FCC rules, two people with knowledge of the meeting said.
Sinclair has a market cap of $3. 7 billion and owns 173 stations, while Tribune has a market cap of $3. 29 billion.
Media watchers are also wondering when Sinclair might conduct sales of Tribune’s cable network WGN and its 31 percent stake in Food Network, which is owned by Scripps Networks Interactive. “Sinclair doesn’t want to buy all of it, but they will if they have to,” a source said. “They may sell off the real estate and they may have to sell off some stations.
” A combination of the two station owners might be bad news for cable operators, which must pay top dollar to carry Sinclair stations on their systems but just pennies to Tribune. “If Sinclair buys those stations, Tribune goes from 15 cents to 55 cents” per subscriber per month, said one TV executive. “That makes it very attractive.
” Tribune’s largest network affiliate partner is Fox, followed by the CW and CBS..