Sinclair Responds to FCC Data Request

Sinclair this week provided the FCC with information in response to the commission's request for information following Sinclair's latest, and expected to be last, variation on its Tribune merger proposal. 

The FCC was apparently looking for historical data on retransmission consent and ad revenue.

Sinclair's submission came in response to a May 21 request from Michele Carey, chief of the Media Bureau, which is overseeing the merger review. 

Specifically, Sinclair provided data--redacted in the public version--on two markets--Indianapolis and St.Louis--where Sinclair argues it should be allowed to keep two of the top four stations.

Related: O'Rielly Defends FCC Against Charges of Pro-Sinclair Bias

Sinclair plans to spin off nine TV stations in markets where the FCC's local ownership limits don't allow it to own both its own stations and Sinclair's. But in Indianapolis and St. Louis Sinclair is seeking a waiver from the restriction on owning two of the top four-rated stations in a market. That used to be prohibited, but the FCC under chairman Ajit Pai loosened that to allow for exceptions on a case-by-case basis. 

Sinclair was trying to make that case this week by providing the FCC with data from Nielsen, BIA Kelsey, Kagan and others on retrans and ad revenues in the market.

The FCC has set July 12 as a deadline on Sinclair's most recent version of the deal, so probably won't be ruling on it until at least Mid-July at the earliest. 

Related: FCC Sets Comment Dates on Latest Version of Sinclair-AT&T Merger

The FCC web site describes the merger this way, attributing it to information from the parties: "Sinclair owns or operates 173 broadcast television stations, consisting of 528 channels, in 81 markets, with affiliations with all major networks, and is the largest local news provider in the country; Tribune owns or operates 42 broadcast television stations in 33 markets, also with affiliations with all major networks. Tribune also owns cable network WGN America, digital multicast network Antenna TV and WGN-Radio. According to the Applicants, Tribune's [sic] owns and operates broadcast television stations in the top three markets in the country, seven stations in the top ten markets, and 34 stations in the top 50 markets.   

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.