One of the nation's largest television broadcasting companies may have competing suitors: Today's media scuttlebutt centers around Tribune Media and its 42 TV stations. Reports say Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox and the private equity firm Blackstone are readying a bid for the company, with Blackstone ponying up cash and Fox kicking some of its own stations into the joint venture. The AP reports the bid would apparently be an attempt to keep Sinclair Broadcast Group, which is also rumored to be pursuing Tribune, from snatching up Tribune's stakes in Food Network, WGN cable network, and the local stations.
Bloomberg reports Sinclair had been looking at offering something in the neighborhood of the high-$30s per share. Sinclair has 173 local television stations in 81 markets, and CNN Money notes that if its bid is successful it would be in violation of current FCC rules in that it would reach more than 40% of the US television market. But Variety sets the stage: Sinclair's move is "part of another wave of broadcast TV station mergers expected now that the FCC is on a course to loosen ownership restrictions." It also calls Fox's rumored move an "offensive" one, as if Sinclair were to be successful, its control over Fox affiliates would swell to 28%. Tribune shares were up 9% to nearly $40 at the open. (Read more Tribune Media Service stories.)