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ACLU Backs Small Cable Operator Opposition to Sinclair-Tribune

Smaller cable operators are getting an assist from the American Civil Liberties Union in their effort to block the Sinclair-Tribune deal.

In a filing with the FCC, the ACLU pulled out all the stops, invoking viewpoint diversity and the legal underpinnings of media ownership regulation to argue the deal should be rejected. It also spent some some time defending cable operators from what it said were the threats from the deal.

It said that in addition to being able to drive smaller, particularly rural, broadcasters out of business, the merger would allow Sinclair to "step up" its "take it or leave it" retrans offers to small cable operators that will raise prices for consumers and "crowd out" cable operators who can't afford the price of doing business with Sinclair.

Related: Cable Critics Slam Sinclair-Tribune

"This process will disproportionately harm rural consumers, many of whom rely exclusively on small cable stations for their television broadcasting."

The American Cable Association has petitioned the FCC to deny the deal and is a member of the Coalition to Save Local Media, which is essentially a coalition to block the deal.

A Sinclair executive declined comment.