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Sinclair inches closer to Tribune deal

The much debated Sinclair-Tribune deal is now inching closer to its final stage. According to the latest update, the takeover of Tribune Media, which was supposed to take place in 2017, is now projected to close during the second quarter of this year.

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The Hunt Valley TV station owner, Sinclair, provided this latest update on the deal when it released its fourth quarter financial statements for 2017. The $3.9 billion mega deal however currently awaits an approval by the Federal Communications Commission and antitrust clearance by the US. Justice Department.  As stated earlier, once the deal is sealed, Sinclair’s dominance will be in over 70% of the US households.

During the fourth quarter, Sinclair reported 8% drop in its total revenues to $734 million. Last year, the company’s revenue surged due to high political advertising revenue of $113 million. Political revenue in this latest quarter came in at $16 million.  Profits surged to $443.5 million from $120.9 million in the prior-year period. This included a $272 million non-recurring tax benefit related to the new US tax law and a gain of $225 million from selling spectrum in a few markets. The company’s media revenues dropped 5.7% to $685.4 million and digital businesses revenue rose 64%.

Sinclair provided an outlook for first quarter of 2018 as well as the complete year. The outlook however does not reflect its pending acquisition of Tribune Media. For the first quarter, Sinclair expects its media revenues to be about to $638 million to $644 million.

Tribune Media, on the other hand, reported soft fourth quarter results on March 1, with operating revenue down 8% to $489 million. Revenue from its Television and Entertainment segment decreased 15% to $326.2 million.

Talking about the pending merger with Sinclair, Tribune’s CEO Peter Kern said, “Looking ahead to 2018, while we are keenly focused on the completion of our pending merger, we also see growth opportunities in the core business, with the shift in our programming strategy at WGN America expected to turn that business into a significant EBITDA contributor, as well as the highly contested midterm elections expected to drive a resurgence of political advertising revenue across our diverse footprint of stations. “

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