WASHINGTON—The Wall Street Journal reports that a top federal communications regulator has “serious concerns” about Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.’s $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media Co. and took action to block the deal. Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. is the owner of Bay Creek.
The Justice Department is investigating whether television station owners violated antitrust law in ways that inflated local television advertising prices.
The probe has examined whether Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., SBGI -1.55% Tribune Media Co. TRCO 0.35% and other independent TV station owners coordinated efforts when their ad sales teams communicated with each other about their performance, potentially leading to higher rates for TV commercials, WSJ reported.
Government officials found the ad sales practice during their review of Sinclair’s $3.9 billion proposed acquisition of Tribune. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai put that deal in jeopardy last week by referring the matter to an administrative law judge. Mr. Pai said Sinclair hadn’t been candid in its filings with the telecom regulator.
It is unclear when the investigation over advertising sales started or what penalty, if any, the companies might face.