Nexstar Buys Tribune For $4.1B, Becoming No. 1 Local TV Group – Report

Last summer, Sinclair's long-pending deal to acquire Tribune for $3.9 billion unraveled in the face of heightened regulatory scrutiny from the FCC. Sinclair and Tribune then filed dueling lawsuits over the merger's meltdown, with Tribune seeking $1 billion in damages.
households, the cap is under review by the FCC, with many station groups arguing that it should not exist at all given that local TV is competing with tech giants for viewers' attention. Currently set at 39% of U.S. Appearing at the NAB Show New York in October, Nexstar CEO Perry Sook said, Sook said the likes of Facebook, Google and Amazon “are unfettered with no restrictions to reach 100% of the country.”
While it was overshadowed by the Sinclair-Tribune merger, another major tie-up has combined Gray Television and Raycom Media. Fox, whose profitable station portfolio will be one of the linchpins of the company after most of it is sold off to Disney in the coming weeks, is also seen as being an active dealmaker on the station front in 2019.
After emerging from bankruptcy in late 2012, Tribune spun off its newspaper assets in 2014. Peter Liguori, a well-established TV executive known for his role in creating FX, ran the company until 2017, passing the baton to current CEO Peter Kern.
Moderate voices fear the elimination of the cap could prompt the same kind of consolidation that effectively killed the radio business. Many observers expect the cap to be relaxed to about 50% of households, but the Republican majority on the FCC leaves open the possibility the cap will be eliminated.
The merger came just months into the presidency of Donald Trump, who has close ties to Sinclair and has vowed to deregulate many industry sectors. The massive scope of Sinclair's 2017 deal to acquire Tribune prompted debate in the regulatory and TV sectors about the longtime limit on ownership of stations.
When contacted by Deadline, a Tribune spokesman declined comment, describing the Reuters report as "speculation." Nexstar did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Nextar outbid private equity firm Apollo Global Management with an all-cash offer that values Tribune at around $46.50 per share, according to Reuters. Tribune shares ended trading on Friday at $40.26.
Nexstar may not face quite the same backlash as Sinclair, given it is less of a lightning rod for criticism and keeps a lower profile, but when the numbers come out activists will likely still mobilize.
The acquisition, first reported by Reuters, would vault Nexstar ahead of Sinclair Broadcast Group to make it the top local TV station owner in the U.S.
The transaction is expected to be formally announced by Monday, Reuters said.” />
It also has WGN America, which is carried in some 77 million homes, and a stake in the Food Network. Chicago-based Tribune has 42 local TV stations — notably in major markets like New York, LA and Chicago — with reach to about 50 million households.
Nexstar Media Group, which has grown in just 20 years from a single Pennsylvania radio station into a local TV colossus, has reportedly struck a deal to acquire Tribune Media for about $4.1 billion.
Although its market capitalization is $3.8 billion, it has arranged for debt financing through several banks, the Reuters report said. Texas-based Nexstar owns, operates, programs or provides sales and other services to 171 television stations around the country.