Cable Critics Slam Sinclair-Tribune

Sinclair broadcast group’s defense of its proposed $3.9 billion purchase of Tribune Media continues to draw a crowd of naysayers, cable companies prominent among them.

The American Cable Association, which petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to deny the deal, found nothing persuasive in Sinclair’s lengthy arguments for and exhibits on the public-interest benefits of the deal.

The ACA is a member of the Coalition to Save Local Media, which might as well be rechristened “The Coalition to Can the Sinclair-Tribune Merger.”

“[E]ven after another round of briefing and nearly seven pages devoted to Sinclair and Tribune’s apparent offense at those who oppose the proposed transaction, the applicants offer virtually no explanation and no relevant evidence in support of the applications,” the ACA said.

NCTA-The Internet & Television Association has typically not gone out of its way to seek regulations on others — since that approach is a double-edged sword — but has at least brandished that sword in Sinclair’s direction.

NCTA stopped short of asking that the deal be blocked and did not say the FCC had to impose conditions. But it called the combined company a potentially harmful colossus that likely needed regulatory guardrails.

The FCC should consider adding merger-specific conditions, NCTA said, including breaking up any new duopolies created (even if they do not violate duopoly rules) and extending to Sinclair-Tribune stations the prohibition on joint retransmission-consent negotiations by non-commonly-owned stations in a market.

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.