Sinclair Broadcasting Group, the largest local television operator in the United States, has bowed to pressure from the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and said Wednesday that it planned to back off part of its proposal to buy a rival TV group.
The Maryland-based company, known for amplifying the Trump administration’s talking points in commentary segments that air on numerous local newscasts, is seeking to buy Tribune Media for $3.9 billion. The deal would put Sinclair in control of broadcasters reaching seven in 10 households across the country, including in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
To satisfy rules that forbid a single company to own airwaves on such a dominant scale, Sinclair previously proposed selling off 23 TV stations after the deal was completed. But several of those stations would still effectively fall within its operational control.
The F.C.C. chairman, Ajit Pai, said on Monday that he had “serious concerns” with those planned divestitures. The company said in a statement on Wednesday that it would sell off two of the stations in question, one in Dallas and another in Houston, through an independent trust after the closing of the deal with Tribune. A third station, WGN in Chicago, which Tribune owns, would be sold outright to Sinclair in an effort to make who controls the station more transparent.