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Public Knowledge: FCC Should Nix Sinclair/Tribune

And the petitions to deny the proposed Sinclair/Tribune merger just keep on coming.

The deadline for those petitions was midnight Monday, Aug. 7. Joining the American Cable Association, Newsmax, Dish and others in asking the FCC to deny the deal were, Common Cause, and the United Church of Christ's Office of Communications, which teamed up with Public Knowledge on a petition.

“The proposed combination of Sinclair Broadcast Group with Tribune Media poses significant public interest harms to broadcast localism and would give Sinclair unrivaled retransmission consent leverage. As a result, consumers would have fewer diverse and independent programming choices and pay higher cable prices," said Public Knowledge.

The groups say Sinclair has not demonstrated the public interest benefits of the deal, which the FCC is charged with basing its decision on, and has "failed" to address the public interest harms.

As a result, the FCC should block the merger, they say.

In May, Sinclair announced it had struck a deal to purchase Tribune's 42 TV stations for $3.9 billion, which would create the country's largest broadcast group at 200-plus stations and 70%-plus national audience reach.

That 70%-plus effective reach would be possible because the FCC reinstated the UHF discount, which only counts one-half of a UHF station's audience toward the FCC's 39% national cap.

Sinclair has said it will address the deal opposition in its reply comments to the FCC.

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.