Kern said he would continue to run the company until Tribune reached a "permanent state".
In a victory for free and independent journalism, Tribune Media said on Thursday that it is pulling out of its $3.9 billion merger with Sinclair Broadcast Group, putting the final nail in the coffin of a deal that had seemed inevitable when it was first announced in May of a year ago.
In the lawsuit filed Thursday in Delaware Chancery Court, Tribune Media alleges Sinclair breached its contractual obligations "in spectacular fashion" in a bid to maintain control of WGN-TV and other stations.
Pai suddenly announced last month that he had "serious concerns" about the deal because Sinclair's divesture plan would still leave it effectively in control of TV stations in markets where its ownership exceeded FCC limitations, including in Chicago. Hearings can take months, and the prospect of enduring one killed previous deals.
"In light of the FCC's unanimous decision, referring the issue of SINCLAIR's conduct for a hearing before an administrative law judge, our merger can not be completed within an acceptable timeframe, if ever", said TRIBUNE CEO PETER KERN. If no divestitures were made, "the combined company would reach 72 percent of United States television households and would own and operate the largest number of broadcast television stations of any station group", the FCC notes.
Sinclair Broadcast Group wanted the Chicago company's 42 TV stations and had initially agreed to dump nearly two dozen of its own to score approval by the FCC.
"Liberal Fake News NBC and Comcast gets approved, much bigger, but not Sinclair", he added.
To stay under the national TV ownership cap, Sinclair had proposed shedding 23 stations, including 14 owned by Tribune and nine of its own.
With the Tribune acquisition, it could expand into dozens of markets.
Tribune said in the lawsuit that the merger agreement included a clause that when seeking to divest stations, Sinclair would sell in a manner that would avoid "even the threat" of any regulatory review.
As a result, Sinclair planned to sell off 21 of its stations.
It's already been more than a year after the merger was announced; the two companies had previously said they would close the deal by the end of 2017. "Further delay and uncertainly would be detrimental to our company, our business partners and our shareholders, and accordingly, our board chose to terminate the merger agreement with Sinclair".
The FCC's concerns followed similar questions raised in separate filings by the American Civil Liberties Union and conservative news outlet Newsmax Media.