Tribune Media shareholders overwhelmingly approved its purchase by TV station powerhouse Sinclair Broadcast Group on Thursday, with more than 99% of votes cast in favor of the union.
Sinclair agreed to purchase Tribune in May for $3.9 billion. The combination would create a media behemoth with 223 broadcast stations in 108 markets. Several media watchdog groups have come out against the merger claiming it would place too much control over the airwaves in one company’s hands. Federal Communications Commission commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has also been among the outspoken critics of the deal.
Sinclair has since told the FCC that it was taking steps to spinoff whatever stations the agency requires for it to comply with ownership limits. Without those divestitures the combined company’s stations would cover about 45% of the U.S., above the 39% cap imposed on broadcasters.
The FCC has paused the informal shot clock on the deal for about 15 days as it weighs some of the issues surrounding the merger, including Sinclair’s plans to spin-off some stations.
“Today’s vote is an important milestone in the merger process and confirms that Tribune stockholders strongly support this transaction and the value it delivers,” said Peter Kern, Tribune Media’s Chief Executive Officer. “We look forward to continuing our work with Sinclair toward the closing of this deal.