21st Century Fox to buy six Sinclair TV stations: report

21st Century Fox to buy six Sinclair TV stations: report
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21st Century Fox is close to buying "at least six" of Sinclair Broadcasting Group's television stations, Variety reported Thursday. 

Variety reports that Sinclair's pending $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media Company is prompting the sale of the stations to Fox. 

"The deal is understood to encompass Tribune-owned Fox affiliates in five markets — Seattle, Denver, Salt Lake City, Sacramento and Cleveland — and Tribune’s CW affiliate that serves the Miami market," according to Variety, adding that the deal would "ensure" that Sinclair secure long-term Fox-TV affiliation deals "for dozens of other stations" that exist as affiliates of Fox. 

The Hill has reached out to 21st Century Fox for comment. 

The report comes one week after The New York Times reported the Republican chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is being investigated by the agency's inspector general.

Chairman Ajit Pai is accused of improperly changing rules around allowing TV broadcasters to increase the number of stations they own in a move that is seen by critics as ultimately benefiting Sinclair, a conservative-leaning broadcaster, according to the Times on Feb. 15. 

"For months I have been trying to get to the bottom of the allegations about Chairman Pai's relationship with Sinclair Broadcasting," Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day Overnight Energy: Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class travel | Obama EPA chief says reg rollback won't stand | Ex-adviser expects Trump to eventually rejoin Paris accord Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand MORE (D-N.J.) said in a statement. Pallone is the ranking Democrat on House Energy and Commerce Committee.

"I am particularly concerned about reports that Chairman Pai may have coordinated with Sinclair to time a series of commission actions to benefit the company," he added. "I am grateful to the FCC's Inspector General that he has decided to take up this important investigation."

The combined local television stations that would be under the Sinclair umbrella would reach more than 65 percent of the country's television audience. Current rules dictate broadcasters to be capped at 39 percent.