Sinclair executive chairman David Smith has had multiple conversations with Sean Compton, president of strategic programming and acquisitions for Tribune Media, including one at SW Steakhouse in Las Vegas in April, during a conference for the National Association of Broadcasters, according to a person familiar with the meeting. Over their meal, Smith and Compton discussed show development for a three-hour block of news-opinion programming, according to the person. Sinclair’s proposed $3.9 billion deal for Tribune, Compton’s current company, is currently awaiting approval before the Federal Communications Commission.
Many Tribune Media executives will be released from their contracts if the merger does go through, and Compton has also held talks with high-up Fox News executives, including Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the network’s parent company, according to the person. Another person inside Fox confirmed that Compton has been under consideration at the network for a high-level position—though it is not clear exactly what—and had meetings with top company officials.
While Compton would have obvious value to Sinclair as a lure to Hannity, his presence at Fox News has an equally clear appeal, as someone who would help ensure that conservative media’s biggest star stays happy and in the fold.