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21st Century Fox Exploring Deal With ION Media to Check Sinclair

Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (FOXA) is considering offloading its local TV station business into a joint venture with privately held broadcast station owner ION Media Networks Inc., according to a person familiar with the situation.

The idea of creating a separate entity to manage Fox Television Stations LLC -- which holds 28 Fox, MyNetworkTV, CW and independent stations -- isn't a new one but has become more pressing given the likelihood that Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. (SGBI) will get regulatory approval for its acquisition of Tribune Media Co. (TRCO) .

Fox, which came up short in its own pursuit of Tribune, has reached out to Ion about a joint venture given that Sinclair stands to own TV stations that would account for 30% of Fox's local network group if it successfully closed the Tribune Media deal. Sinclair's ownership of Fox-affiliated networks would make it the largest owner of local stations tied to any one of the four major broadcasters.

Fox and Ion declined to comment on the possibility of a deal, which was reported on Wednesday, Aug. 2, by Bloomberg. Sinclair didn't reply to requests for comment.

If Fox and ION do work out a deal, they would create a separate entity to...