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Sinclair, Tribune in talks to overcome regulatory hurdles

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NEW YORK (AP) — The Sinclair broadcasting company says it’s in talks with Tribune Media on how to overcome regulatory hurdles to its $3.9 billion deal to buy Tribune’s 42 TV stations.

Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley says the companies are working to find approaches that are best for the company, employees and shareholders. He made the comments Wednesday as Sinclair reported quarterly financial results.

In July, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai raised concerns about the deal and ordered a hearing. Although Sinclair has proposed selling some stations to address potential antitrust concerns, Pai said Sinclair might still be able to operate the stations “in practice, even if not in name.”

At the time, one potential buyer was the Cunningham Group, which has ties to Sinclair’s founding family. Sinclair has said it will no longer sell two stations to Cunningham and will instead seek FCC permission to sell them to another unrelated party.

Tribune’s stations include KTLA in Los Angeles and WPIX in New York.

The deadline for either party to walk away from the deal is Wednesday. Neither side appeared to be leaving the deal. If the companies remain in talks, they will face a lengthy hearing process with the FCC. In the past, just the prospect of that has dissuaded companies from continuing with merger plans. The last deal an FCC hearing blocked was a 2002 merger of satellite TV companies DirecTV and Echostar.

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