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Groups Petition FCC To Delay Sinclair-Tribune Decision

Critics of the Sinclair-Tribune merger continue to try and get FCC chairman Ajit Pai to delay a decision on the deal until a federal appeals court rules on the UHF discount that made the combo possible.

The FCC restored the discount under Pai--it had been eliminated under Democratic chairman Tom Wheeler.

That discount means a TV station group only has to count 50% of its UHF TV stations' audience toward the 39% national audience reach cap.

Pai declined when Hill Democrats asked him to delay the decision until the court rules, but Common Cause and Public Knowledge Thursday officially petitioned the commission to "hold the proceeding in abeyance," which is just legalese for "hold off," pointing out that "the Court’s consideration of the UHF Reinstatement Order has direct bearing on whether the proposed acquisition of Tribune Media Company (“Tribune”) by Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (“Sinclair”) (collectively, the “Applicants”) can be consummated as currently envisioned."

They point out how difficult it would be to disassemble and reassemble the deal if the court rules the discount does not apply and cite precedent for the FCC holding its decisions in abeyance pending relevant court decisions.

Both groups want the FCC to deny the deal when it does render a decision.