Tue 02/06/2018 14:16 PM
Event Driven Takeaways
 
  • Opposing third parties say the FCC has shown limited interest in arguments against the Tribune/Sinclair deal.
  • All three Republican FCC commissioners are expected to support the transaction, two industry sources told Event Driven. One of the Democratic members, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, has publicly raised concerns about the deal. Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, the other Democrat on the commission, might join her in opposing Tribune/Sinclair.
  • Tribune and Sinclair disclosed today, Feb. 6, that they had reached a new timing agreement with the DOJ that expires Feb. 11. The parties agree to provide the DOJ with 10 days advance notice prior to consummating their merger.

Recent communications with the FCC indicate the agency is prepared to approve Sinclair’s acquisition of Tribune, according to two industry sources involved in opposing the deal. Both sources have met or corresponded with the FCC within the past two weeks.

The majority of FCC commissioners will support the deal, according to the first industry source. “I think you can expect to see a splintered decision, with one or two dissents,” the source said.

The same source expressed some frustration regarding the amount of consideration that FCC staff have given to opposing views. “Staff are polite and they take prolific notes, but they don’t really respond to arguments,” said the source.

The second industry source agreed that a majority of FCC commissioners are in favor of Tribune/Sinclair. “Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has been responsive to our concerns,” the second source said. “Other than that, the FCC has not been particularly responsive.”

Rosenworcel, a Democrat, has publicly raised concerns about the deal, and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn - the other Democrat in leadership at the FCC - might join her in opposing Tribune/Sinclair, both industry sources agreed. Outside groups had hoped to sway Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, a Republican, who the first source described as taking a “policy-oriented analysis rather than a political one.” However, all three Republican commissioners are expected either to vote in favor of the deal or to support a staff decision allowing the transaction to proceed, both industry sources said.

The transaction still needs DOJ approval. Today, Feb. 6, Sinclair and Tribune disclosed that they had reached a new timing agreement with the DOJ that expires Feb. 11. The companies said they will provide the DOJ with 10 days of advance notice prior to consummating their merger.

The second source predicted that the FCC shot clock, which is paused on day 167 of the 180-day timeline, will resume “in very short order.”

Event Driven’s coverage of this transaction can be found HERE.

--Ryan Lynch