Media giants eye Tribune's 42 TV stations across country

Fox News owner 21st Century Fox and a New York investment firm are in talks to buy TV station operator Tribune Media, according to several reports.

A successful bid would keep Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., another TV station operator that is also reportedly pursuing the company, from snatching up Tribune. Blackstone, a private equity firm, is said to be putting cash toward creating a joint venture, while 21st Century Fox would contribute some TV stations, according to the reports.

21st Century Fox owns and operates the Fox network, FX cable channel and 28 TV stations. Adding Tribune would give 21st Century Fox control over more local TV stations, most of them in major cities. Publicly traded Tribune owns or operates 42 stations across the nation, including WPIX in New York, KTLA in Los Angeles and WGN in Chicago, the company's longtime home base. It also has stakes in the Food Network and job-search website CareerBuilder. Several of the stations that Tribune owns are affiliated with Fox and air the network's primetime shows such as "Empire" and "The Simpsons."

"The deal does have clear strategic value for Fox," said Jefferies analyst John Janedis, in a note to clients Monday.

Tribune, Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. and Blackstone declined to comment Monday. The possible deal was first reported by the Financial Times.

Reports of a potential bid from Sinclair, based in Hunt Valley, Maryland, emerged a month after proposals to dial back regulations that kept a lid on such deals were floated by Ajit Pai, the chairman appointed by Trump to head the Federal Communications Commission. Pai also has proposed loosening FCC regulations that govern Internet access and privacy.

Shares of Tribune Media Co. jumped $2.23, or 6.1 percent, to $38.79 early Monday. Shares of 21st Century Fox, based in New York, slipped 11 cents to $29.75.