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Dish Asks FCC to Deny Sinclair/Tribune

As expected, Dish has filed a petition with the FCC to deny the merger of Sinclair and Tribune, a $3.9 billion deal that would create the nation's largest broadcast group at over 200 stations.

The American Cable Association, which also filed a petition to deny the deal, suggested earlier in the day Dish would be following suit.

Sinclair argues it needs the scale to stay competitive with big cable and broadband content creators and distributors.

Dish tells the FCC in an extensive (191-page) filing (including attachments and redacted pages) that letting Sinclair get bigger would lead to "higher prices, more [retransmission consent impasse-related] station blackouts, less choice, and less local news for millions of consumers."

It asks the commission to either dismiss the deal application or deny it, saying the merger violates FCC rules and essentially can't be structured to comply with them.

Dish actually says the combined company would have over 500 "stations," but it is counting multicast feeds, it says. It also points out that Sinclair/Tribune would reach 72%-plus of U.S households (thanks to the FCC's reinstatement of the UHF discount that counts only half those station's audience reach toward the FCC's 39% national reach cap).

In addition to higher prices for consumers, Dish says the deal would reduce localism via a strategy of centrally produced content.

Dish says the deal "violates the current media ownership rules, and the applicants fail to submit a single economic study or expert declaration supporting any of the claimed “benefits.”

John Eggerton
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.