Bates White assists DOJ in Sinclair-Tribune merger review
In May 2017, Sinclair Broadcast Group proposed a $3.9 billion deal to acquire Tribune Media. The merger would have expanded Sinclair’s reach (already the largest TV broadcaster in the United States) to more than 70% of US homes, giving it stations in many major cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) retained Leslie Marx and Cory Capps, supported by Bates White, to analyze the proposed transaction. Cable operators and other video programming distributors, including DISH Network, contended that the combined entity would be able to leverage its increased ownership of affiliate stations of the “Big-4” national broadcast networks to negotiate higher retransmission fees with distributors, which would ultimately lead to higher prices for consumers. In addition, they argued that the transaction would harm the quality of news and local programming. There was also concern that the combination would reduce competition in television advertising. Bates White assisted the DOJ in evaluating the potential competitive effects of the merger.
In July 2018, the Federal Communications Commission, which had been investigating the merger separately from DOJ, referred aspects of the transaction to an administrative law judge for review. The following month, Tribune announced it had terminated the sale agreement.