Public Knowledge Files Reply to Opposition to Petition to Deny Proposed Sinclair, Tribune Merger

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Yesterday, Public Knowledge filed a Reply to the Opposition Sinclair and Tribune filed to Public Knowledge, Common Cause, and United Church of Christ, OC Inc.’s original Petition to Deny, which asked the FCC to stop the merger of those companies.

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. Public Knowledge opposes this merger as both companies have failed to show any positive public interest benefits.

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

“The record is clear: 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 and 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.

“In their opposition, Sinclair and Tribune brand themselves as the saviors of local broadcasting. Ironically, their plan reduces local control of broadcasting and local news coverage in order to create a massive national network. It’s evident Sinclair seeks to eliminate local news coverage and replace it with centralized editorial content, and disguise its editorializing with trusted local broadcasters in their communities.

“Sinclair and Tribune also admit they would maximize their leverage post-transaction to charge higher retransmission consent fees, ultimately harming consumers. Finally, Sinclair has repeatedly urged the Commission to delay its 39-month timeline for repacking broadcasters in the broadcast television spectrum bands, an effort that would delay deployment of 600 MHz wireless service for consumers. Approval of the transaction would only give Sinclair increased leverage to delay this process.

“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. Instead, their filings in the record have only further demonstrated the public interest harms that would result from the merger. Thus, the Commission should block the proposed merger.”

You may view the original Petition to Deny as well as our Reply to Sinclair and Tribune’s Opposition for more information.

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