FCC Concerns and Broad Public Opposition Should Put an End to Potential Sinclair-Tribune Merger

Monday, July 16, 2018

In light of broad public opposition to a potential Sinclair-Tribune merger, along with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai expressing “serious concerns” today, it is clear that the parties should abandon their proposed merger.

Pai’s concerns echoed one of the points in an FCC petition CWA, NABET-CWA, and the Newsguild-CWA recently filed to deny the merger: that Sinclair’s so-called ‘sidecar’ agreements should be viewed as a way to maintain control of stations after supposedly divesting them.

CWA’s petition also pointed out that the merger does not serve the public interest, would violate the congressionally mandated 39 percent national audience cap, reduce competition, harm localism, eliminate jobs, and diminish viewpoint diversity. There is broad opposition to the Sinclair-Tribune merger among labor unions; civil rights, consumer, and public interest organizations; cable, satellite TV, and rural broadband providers; independent news and entertainment programmers; as well as many members of Congress, state attorneys general, and members of the general public.

CWA has led the fight to stop this ill-advised merger by submitting an FCC petition to deny the merger, rallying against the merger, and encouraging activists to submit comments to the FCC. The FCC's website shows over 19,000 comments on the merger, and most appear to be in opposition.

Sinclair recently faced widespread criticism for a video showing news anchors from numerous local news networks owned by Sinclair reading talking points that support one political party’s narrative about the media. Forcing a particular viewpoint across stations – as opposed to letting local stations compete for stories and elevate issues important to local communities – results in propaganda.

Sinclair also has a long history of cutting jobs when it acquires stations, which means more pre-packaged segments and cookie-cutter scripts and less local news coverage that reflects the concerns and interests of the communities that these stations serve.

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