Free Press Urges Members to Oppose Sinclair-Tribune Deal

Anti-consolidation group Free Press is urging supporters to tell the FCC to block the Sinclair-Tribune Merger.

Calling the combo "Trump TV,” Free Press provides an online submission form on its website where the following comment can be sent to the commission:

"Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune should never be allowed to merge. If this deal goes through, a single company would own more than 200 local-TV stations reaching more than 70 percent of the country. That's far beyond the legal limits on media ownership and far too much power in the hands of a single company…"

It claims Sinclair "[slips] right-wing views and Republican talking points into its newscasts" and the Free Press website links to stories about an ex-Trump spokesperson joining Sinclair and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner allegedly claiming to have struck a deal with Sinclair for coverage of the campaign. Sinclair has denied there was any such deal.

Asked about the allegation of pushing a conservative agenda, Sinclair president Chris Ripley told B&C in an interview following the announcement of the proposed merger: "That’s just patently false. We produce over 2,000 hours of news a week, and with Tribune it will be probably over 3,000 hours, and the notion that we are centrally influencing or controlling that is preposterous. Local news doesn’t have a bunch of opinion pieces; it doesn’t tilt one way or another. It’s focused on the nuts and bolts of reporting. We wouldn’t be successful economically if we had a broader political agenda we were trying to push through."

House Democrats this week were calling for the Republican leadership of the Energy & Commerce Committee to schedule a hearing on the deal, but a committee source signaled to B&C on background that was unlikely.

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.