ACA Connects Seeks Sinclair-Disney Deal Disconnect

Smaller cable operators don't want the government to allow Sinclair to purchase the Disney regional sports networks (RSNs) any more than they wanted it to allow the broadcaster to buy the Tribune stations, and for the same reason, according to ACA Connects.

Related: Sinclair to Buy Disney RSNs

The trade group said Disney RSNs under Sinclair would just boost prices to consumers, including the ones ACA Connects serves.

RSNs, like network affiliates, are among cable operators' must-have programming, ACA says. "By jointly negotiating these assets when they serve the same market, Sinclair can raise prices to cable operators for both offerings."

Sinclair scrapped the Tribune deal after pushback from regulators. ACA is hoping for a similar result with Disney.

Disney announced last week it had struck a definitive agreement with Disney to buy its 21 regional sports nets and Fox college Sports, which Disney bought from Twenty-First Century Fox but agreed to spin off, for $10.6 billion.

While the deal does not involve any licenses, so won't be vetted by the FCC, the Department of Justice reviews deals of such magnitude for antitrust issues. The deal includes rights to 14 Major League Baseball (MLB) teams, 16 NBA teams, and 12 NHL teams.

Sinclair already owns Marquee Sports Network (a joint venture with the Chicago Cubs), Tennis Channel, Stadium (college sports and pro highlights), Ring of Honor Wrestling, and some high school sports programming.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.