The Sinclair Broadcast Group is near a deal to buy Tribune Media, people briefed on the matter said Sunday, expanding its empire of local television stations because of rule changes by the Trump administration.
The advanced discussions are taking place after Sinclair beat out a number of competitors, including Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox, for the ownership of television stations like WGN in Chicago and, in New York, PIX 11.
Sinclair is expected to pay about $44 a share, one of those briefed said, valuing Tribune at about $3.8 billion. A deal could be announced as soon as Monday, though talks are continuing and an agreement may not materialize.
Fox had explored making a bid for Tribune in partnership with the investment firm Blackstone Group – in part out of concern that Sinclair would end up controlling too many Fox local television affiliates – but it did not make a bid, according to two other people with knowledge of the matter.
Should Sinclair strike a deal for Tribune, it would bolster its position as the country’s biggest owner of local television stations. Sinclair already owns 173 stations, covering more than a quarter of the country’s households.
Its bid for Tribune was made possible by the Republican-led Federal Communications Commission, which relaxed rules governing ownership of local television stations.
Representatives for Tribune, Sinclair, Fox and Blackstone declined to comment on the status of the talks, which were reported earlier by Reuters.
The Sacramento Bee contributed to this story.