21st Century Fox and Blackstone, the private equity firm, are reportedly in talks to launch a bid to buy Tribune’s station group, which Sinclair Broadcast Group is also vying for.
According to reports, which first appeared in The Financial Times, the deal would be a joint venture between Fox and Blackstone, which would provide the cash needed to acquire Tribune’s 42 stations. Fox would add its O&Os to the group, reports said.
The news follows FCC efforts, under new chairman Ajit Pai, to roll back media ownership regs and make it easier for group owners to buy more stations. It has already voted to reinstate the UHF discount, which counts only half a UHF station's audience toward the 39% cap on national reach by a broadcast group, and at the same time signaled it would look at whether that 39% cap should be raised, something Fox has long pushed for.
Fox has 28 stations in 17 markets that reach about 37% of the country, so it would likely have to have that 39% cap raised to be able to buy Tribune, unless it spun off some stations.
(Photo via 401(K) 2012's Flickr. Image taken on Feb. 21, 2017 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 9x16 aspect ratio.)