21st Century Fox, Blackstone Poised to Offer Rival Bid for Tribune

by Paige Albiniak  |  05.01.2017

21st Century Fox and private equity firm Blackstone are in talks to launch a bid for Tribune Media that would rival Sinclair Broadcasting, which already has made an offer, reported The Financial Times and Bloomberg on Sunday.

Under the proposed deal, according to CNN, 21st Century Fox and Blackstone would form a joint venture, with Blackstone providing the cash for the merger. Fox would then add all of its stations to the new group, which would mean that the new company would potentially own more than two stations in some of the country’s largest markets, such as New York.

Tribune owns or operates 42 television stations in the U.S. — including WPIX New York, KTLA Los Angeles and WGN Chicago as well as cable network WGN America. It also owns Fox affiliates in some markets, including Denver, Indianapolis and Sacramento, Calif.  21st Century Fox — besides owning many networks such as Fox, FX Networks, Fox News, Fox Business and Fox Sports — owns 28 stations, including WTTG/WWOR New York, KTTV Los Angeles and WFLD Chicago. Sinclair owns 173 stations in 81 markets, although Sinclair’s largest market is Washington, D.C., where it owns WJLA after acquiring it from Allbritton in 2014 for $985 million.

The broadcast acquisitions market is heating up after the FCC reinstated the so-called UHF discount, which counts stations that broadcast over UHF frequency at 50 percent market coverage, even though in the digital world, UHF stations cover as much, if not more, market area as VHF stations. The broadcast ownership cap is currently at 39 percent, as designated by Congress.

At NAB in Las Vegas last week, FCC Chairman Ajit Paid also said he intends to have the commission review all of its media reviews, and broadcasters took that as a good sign.

READ MORE: CNN, Bloomberg

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