Public Knowledge Files Petition to Deny Proposed Sinclair, Tribune Merger

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Yesterday, Public Knowledge, joined by Common Cause and United Church of Christ OC, Inc., filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission asking the agency to deny the proposed merger of Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media. If approved, the purchase of Tribune Media’s 42 stations would enable Sinclair to reach 72 percent of U.S. households -- significantly more than the nationwide audience cap of 39 percent as determined by Congress.

The following can be attributed to Yosef Getachew, Policy Fellow at Public Knowledge:

“The FCC’s merger analysis requires that any proposed transaction must serve the public interest. Not only do Sinclair and Tribune make no effort to address the significant public interest harms their merger would create, but they also fail show any positive public interest benefits that would result from the transaction

“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.

“The transaction could also delay mobile broadband deployment in the 600 MHz band, and stifle permissionless innovation in the TV White Spaces, hindering efforts to close the digital divide. Deployment delays in the 600 MHz spectrum would prevent competitive and rural wireless carriers from meeting the growing consumer demand for mobile broadband, and impeding new uses of unoccupied TV spectrum could thwart development of new technologies that have the potential to bring connectivity to the most sparsely populated parts of the US.

“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. Thus, the Commission should block the proposed merger.”

You may view the Petition to Deny.

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