WJLA owner to buy WDCW owner in $3.9B deal

WASHINGTON — Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group continues its acquisition spree, agreeing to acquire Chicago-based Tribune Media Co. in a cash and stock deal worth $3.9 billion.

If the acquisition wins regulatory approval, Sinclair, which owns WJLA Channel 7 and NewsChannel 8 in Washington, would gain 42 Tribune television stations, including WDCW-50 in Washington.

Under terms of the deal, Tribune shareholders will get $35 in cash and 0.23 shares of Sinclair Class A stock for each share of Tribune stock they own.

It is an 8 percent premium over Tribune’s closing share price on May 5.

“Television broadcasting is even more relevant today, specifically when it comes to serving our local communities,” David Smith, executive chairman of Sinclair, said. “Tribune’s stations allow Sinclair to strengthen our commitment to serving local communities and to advance the Next Generation Broadcast Platform.”

Sinclair already owns 173 stations, making it the largest U.S. television station owner. In April, it agreed to buy Bolten Media Group for $240 million, gaining 14 stations in smaller markets in Tennessee, North Carolina, California, Montana and Texas.

Three years ago, Sinclair paid close to $1 billion for Allbritton Communications gaining WJLA and NewsChannel 8.

In March, the company also agreed to acquire Tennis Magazine and Tennis.com for $14 million.

Last year, it paid $350 million for cable television’s Tennis Channel.

Assuming regulatory and shareholder approval, Sinclair expects the Tribune acquisition to close in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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