Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Media Groups Oppose Sinclair, Tribune Deal

Sinclair Broadcast Group’s $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media will give the company unprecedented power to politicize local TV news,  raise pay TV and ad rates, slow the growth of wireless broadband, and determine what new broadcast technologies can succeed, opponents of the deal charged in filings at the FCC ahead of last night’s deadline for critics to file their concerns.

According to, companies including Dish Network and T-Mobile, cable TV trade organizations, public interest activists, and conservative news organization Newsmax were among the groups objecting to the transaction.

Most noted that the acquisition would enable Sinclair to reach 72% of the population with more than 200 full power stations in more than 100 markets including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Federal restrictions limit a company to reaching 39% of all viewers.

An FCC rule allows stations to only count half of the audience reached via UHF stations. Using that standard, Sinclair would reach 45.5%,

In addition, a deal could violate FCC rules that bar ownership of two of the four most popular stations in a market — typically affiliates of the Big Four networks. Sinclair would have 10 in Seattle; St. Louis; Portland, OR; Salt Lake City; Oklahoma City;  Winston-Salem, N.C.; Grand Rapids; Harrisburg, PA.; Richmond, VA; and Des Moines.

Sinclair has said that it will divest stations if needed to comply with laws.

But the FCC may relax its ownership caps. If it does, then Sinclair said last month that it might “file amendments to the applications to address such changes.”

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