Public Knowledge, ACA Rail Against Sinclair-Tribune

Says merger would reduce local control of broadcasting and local news coverage
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WASHINGTON—More shots at the proposed Sinclair-Tribune merger has been fired, this time from the public interest group Public Knowledge and ACA. The organizations filed responses to Sinclair and Tribune’s Opposition to the original Petition to Deny, which has asked the FCC to stop the merger of these companies.

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“The record is clear,” Yosef Getachew, policy fellow at Public Knowledge, wrote. “The proposed combination of Sinclair Broadcast Group with Tribune Media is not in the public interest. If approved, the merger would result in fewer diverse independent programming options and higher cable prices for consumers. The transaction could also delay mobile broadband deployment in the 600 MHz band, hindering efforts to close the digital divide.”

“ACA urges the Federal Communications Commission to deny the Sinclair-Tribune transaction because it would violate existing FCC rules while at the same time failing to meet the obligation to demonstrate it would serve the public interest,” ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka's statement read. “Even if the transaction were not per se unlawful, it would create a broadcasting behemoth with unprecedented control over both the national and local television markets.”

The proposed merger between Sinclair and Tribune’s 42 stations would enable Sinclair to reach 72 percent of U.S. households, according to Public Knowledge; the organization reports that Congress had previously set a nationwide audience cap of 39 percent.

“Sinclair and Tribune have failed to show any positive, transaction-specific public interest benefits from the merger, and fail to address the significant public interest harms,” Getachew writes. “Instead, their filings in the record have only further demonstrated public interest harms that would result from the merger. Thus, the Commission should block the proposed merger.”

Click on the links to read Public Knowledge's and ACA's complete filings.