Nexstar to sell 19 stations for $1.32B to clear way for Tribune purchase

Nexstar to sell 19 stations for $1.32B to clear way for Tribune purchase

Nexstar Media Group on Wednesday announced it is selling 19 television stations for $1.32 billion, a move that will clear the way for the company's acquisition of Tribune Media.

The announcement comes three months after Nexstar agreed to purchase Tribune Media for about $4 billion.

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In order for Nexstar to comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules surrounding local and national TV station ownership, Nexstar needed to sell off 19 of its stations to gain approval of both the FCC and Justice Department.

Nexstar is selling 11 of the 19 stations to Tegna Inc. for $740 million, while the other eight stations are being sold to E.W. Scripps Co. for $580 million. 

The announcement comes after Sinclair Broadcast Group’s bid to acquire Tribune fell apart when regulators essentially shot down the $3.9 billion merger in July 2018. 

At the time, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai stated he had “serious concerns” about the Sinclair-Tribune merger, which would have provided Sinclair with 215 stations and reach into 72 percent of U.S. households.

Tribune Media officially backed out of the merger in August while filing a $1 billion lawsuit against Sinclair for allegedly breaching their agreement while blaming the company for creating regulatory roadblocks that became the focus of the FCC. 

If the Tribune purchase is approved, it positions Nexstar to own more local television stations than Sinclair, which for years has held that distinction.