There is buzz on Capitol Hill and elsewhere that the Department of Justice is close to signing off on the Sinclair-Tribune deal, perhaps as early as Friday (July 13).
Fox Business Network was reporting on Thursday (July 12) that Sinclair is looking for approval any day now. Fox Broadcasting is buying some of the stations being spun off to comply with FCC rules.
But there have been suggestions before that the DOJ was close to completing its deal review, only to have Sinclair file an amended version of the proposed $3.9 billion merger to respond to antitrust issues.
This time, the FCC deadline for comment on Sinclair's fifth version of the deal is midnight Thursday, and historically the department and the FCC coordinate reviews.
If the buzz is accurate, the FCC will almost certainly not make its decision until a reasonable period of time after the last comment comes in, for either the reality or appearance of considering all input before rendering a decision.
FCC chair Ajit Pai has talked up the need for transparency, and put his regulatory money where his mouth is in terms of publishing items before meeting votes, though some would argue the FCC has not made it particularly easy to figure out just what Sinclair's most recent proposal is and how it differs from the ones before.
In a post-FCC meeting press conference Thursday (July 12), Pai said no decision had been made on whether the FCC would hold the Sinclair-Tribune deal decision in abeyance until a federal court had rules on the UHF discount that made the deal possible, as various groups and Hill Democrats have requested.
The court decision could come any day now.