Public Knowledge Responds to Tribune Media Withdrawal from Sinclair Deal, Lawsuit

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Today, Tribune Media has announced that it has terminated its 3.9 billion merger agreement with Sinclair Broadcasting Group and that it has filed a lawsuit against Sinclair for breach of contract. The withdrawal follows the Federal Communications Commission’s move to send the merger to an administrative law judge.

The merger between Sinclair Broadcasting Group, the largest owner of local television stations in the country, and Tribune Media would have enabled 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 has opposed this anti-competitive merger because it would harm the public.

The following can be attributed to Phillip Berenbroick, Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“While what has apparently killed this deal was Sinclair’s pattern of deception at the FCC -- a fact that should affect its future dealings at the Commission -- the deal was bad on its own merits, and this latest development is good for consumers.

“Broadcasters are supposed to serve their local communities. This deal would have contributed to the trend where ‘local’ news and ‘local’ programming is created or scripted out of town and is indistinguishable from cable news. But we already have cable news. Broadcasting is supposed to be different.

“Further, by reducing broadcaster competition in the ad market, and making it easier for different broadcast stations to band together in cable carriage negotiations, the deal would have lead to higher prices for consumers, and higher cable bills.

“The American public and the American consumer do not need more media consolidation, and it’s good that this deal is dead. But we expect more efforts from the media titans in the future to tighten their grip on the information marketplace.”

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