Opponents of Sinclair Broadcast Group‘s merger with Tribune Media may have been a bit pleased upon hearing Feb. 21 of the creation of a divestiture trust that calls for the sale of up to 23 broadcast television properties.
In Sinclair’s view, this puts the company under the 39% national ownership reach cap, which the FCC is presently reviewing for possible widening.
But, there’s a loophole that Sinclair — and other companies including Cox Media Group and Raycom — have turned to in order to, in many ways, skirt that cap. It involves the “shared services agreement,” and in many cases the “joint sales agreement.”
That’s exactly how Sinclair will continue to essentially control two of Tribune’s crown jewels—until Sinclair eventually buys them back for the exact price that they are selling them for, documents filed March 1 with the FCC reveal.
Who, then, are the buyers? They happen to have very close ties to Sinclair.