Sinclair and Tribune Respond to Deal Critics

BALTIMORE—Critics of the potential Sinclair-Tribune merger have given their thoughts to the FCC through Petitions to Deny filings, and now Sinclair and Tribune have provided their response. In a jointly filed Opposition to Petitions to Deny, the companies attempt to address each of the claims made in the petitions, including those related to retransmission consent negotiations.

Sinclair sought to show in its filing that this new merger will advance the “health and sustainability of free, over-the-air broadcast television and the benefits the medium provides to the viewing public,” reads the Opposition. It also states that due to competition from streaming services, national or near-national MVPDs and consolidate cable programming networks, the proposed merger will “enable the combined company to invest in unique programming that addresses the news, information and public safety needs for local communities.”

In addition, the Opposition makes the case that the previously filed Petition to Deny has two primary flaws, including the reliance on speculative assumptions and exaggerations and that petitioners arguments are inappropriate in such an adjudicatory proceeding.

Chris Ripley, president and CEO of Sinclair, said in a statement on the filing: “This acquisition will help to ensure the future of free and local television model for both Tribune’s and Sinclair’s local communities.”

Additional criticisms levied against the potential merger—from opponents like Dish, Public Knowledge, Common Cause, One America News Network and the American Cable Association—include diminished news and less diverse content, and post-incentive auction TV station repack and retransmission consent imbalances of power. Some have also argued that is a pro-Trump, conservative voice.

The full Opposition to Petition to Deny can be read here.