(CN) — Sinclair Broadcast Group, the nation’s largest TV station operator, announced Monday that it will pay $3.9 billion for Tribune Media, adding more than 42 stations to its already muscular lineup in 33 markets.
The deal is still subject to the approval of the Federal Communications Commission. But if does go through, in addition to the cash payment, Sinclair will also assume about $2.7 billion in Tribune Debt.
“This is a transformational acquisition for Sinclair that will open up a myriad of opportunities for the company,” Chris Ripley, president and chief executive of Sinclair, said in a statement announcing the deal.
The purchase includes three marque media properties. KTLA in Los Angeles, WPIX in New York, and WGN in Chicago, the Tribune company’s flagship station.
Founded by the Chicago Tribune newspaper in 1948, that station’s call letters stand for “World’s Greatest Newspaper,” a brag from a nearly bygone age.
Tribune has owned KTLA since 1985, when it was acquired from Kohlberg Kravis and Roberts. Among its other holdings are stakes in the Food Network and job-search website CareerBuilder.
Tribune is the former parent company of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. The two newspapers, along with Tribune’s other publishing properties, were spun off into a new company — now named Tronc Inc. — in 2014.
Sinclair already has 173 stations around the country, including KENV in Salt Lake City, KOMO in Seattle and WKRC in Cincinnati.
The Tribune deal, plus other pending acquisitions, will give Sinclair a total of 233 TV stations. But it acknowledge Monday that it may have to sell off some of its existing assets in order to get FCC approval for the Tribune buy.