The FCC has stopped the clock on the Sinclair/Tribune merger review, but only for a couple of weeks (15 days, actually).
The FCC's Media Bureau said that it was stopping the clock, which is an informal clock anyway, to provide for more time to comment on the deal given Sinclair's latest explanation of the public interest benefits of the deal and how it would spin off stations to comply with FCC rules.
The FCC had asked for the extra info in a second request, not unusual in mergers, and has decided to give commenters extra time to comment.
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"In the interest of a complete record, we are establishing an additional opportunity for comment," the bureau said in a public notice. "The Commission has a strong interest in ensuring a full and complete record upon which to base its decision in this proceeding. Pausing the clock will ensure that commenters have additional time to review and comment on this new information. Accordingly, we pause our 180-day transaction shot clock until November 2, 2017. Comments also are due by November 2, 2017."
Critics of the deal had called for stopping the clock, which currently registers day 104 of the 180-day target.
“While we are encouraged with the FCC’s decision to finally stop the clock on the merger, it’s unclear why they waited 104 days to ask questions that consumer advocates, conservative groups, and industry competitors have been asking since day one," said Karl Frisch, executive director of one of those critics, Allied Progress. "It’s clear that this merger is not in the public’s interest and the deal fails to meet the FCC’s own rules on a host of issues."
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