Tribune: Blackstone may join Fox in purchase race

MUMBAI: Fox and a New York firm, possibly Blackstone, are planning to form a joint venture to buy Tribune which owns or operates 42 stations, with Fox contributing its 28 owned-and-operated stations and Blackstone providing cash.

The potential multi-billion-dollar deal would make Fox US's largest single broadcast station owner.

Meanwhile, Fox News Channel on Monday said that co-president Bill Shine has left the company, the latest high-level departure at a network troubled with charges of discrimination that already claimed founding CEO Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly.

Fox and Blackstone are together hoping to beat a rival offer from Sinclair Broadcasting, the largest owner of TV stations in the US. Baltimore-based Sinclair, which owns 173 stations, has stations in midsize and small markets.

Sinclair was also in the running for Tribune, which could give the former significantly more leverage in talks with Fox.

Under current rules, however, the national TV audience that any single owner can access with its stations is capped at 39 per cent. Since President Trump elevated Pai to lead FCC, the commission has changed rules and made public statements announcing that it intends to scale back limits placed on station ownership. If Sinclair or Fox purchased Tribune, they would go past the current FCC limits.

Another current FCC regulation that could obstruct Sinclair or Fox purchase of Tribune is the local ownership rule which disallows any owner from running more than two stations in most markets.

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