Four high-profile critics of the proposed Sinclair-Tribune merger have written to Tribune’s board urging it to back away from the deal or resign. They argue Sinclair has failed to satisfy its commitment that all its representations to the FCC be true and correct in all respects, giving Tribune the ability to terminate the deal now.
“Sinclair’s style in Washington is exhibit A of how to squander the most favorable regulatory environment in decades,” said one industry official.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said Monday he has “serious concerns” about Sinclair Broadcast Group’s acquisition of Tribune Media, announcing he will schedule a hearing on the transaction before an administrative law judge.
Comments opposing the Sinclair-Tribune deal were piling up in the FCC’s docket Thursday (July 12), the deadline for replies to comments on Sinclair’s fifth version of the deal. Many appeared to be form comments generated by a call to arms (headlined “Stop Trump TV!”) by activist group Democratic Underground. More than half of the 25 comments on the first page of the electronic docket had the same first paragraph beginning with, “I urge the FCC to deny the merger petition ….”
A growing number of groups are urging the FCC to delay its review of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s merger with Tribune Media, while a court weighs the FCC’s recent decision to restore the UHF discount that would ease the deal’s approval.
The FCC’s voluntary merger review shot clock hasn’t been getting much action lately. The Sinclair-Tribune shot clock remains stopped — since January — and probably won’t start until at least July 12, the deadline for comment on Sinclair’s latest version of the deal. And, the shot clock on the T-Mobile-Sprint merger proposal had not started at press time — the FCC opened the comment docket June 15 but has yet to put the application out for comment.
Sinclair Broadcast Group’s bid to become a broadcasting powerhouse by purchasing Tribune Media Co. hinges on spinning off TV stations to comply with U.S. limits on broadcast ownership. Yet its proposals to sell stations from Pennsylvania to California are drawing fresh scrutiny, as critics including business rivals say some of the transactions are designed to evade the ownership rules.
A dozen senators called on the FCC to investigate Sinclair Broadcast Group for distorting the news, and to pause its review of the pending acquisition of Tribune Media. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai immediately shot down the request, saying it would conflict with his commitment to the First Amendment and freedom of the press.
A dozen senators wrote to the FCC today to urge the agency to investigate Sinclair Broadcast Group and pause its proposed merger with Tribune Media.
Allied Progress, a left-leaning watchdog group, has produced an ad calling on viewers to contact the FCC urging the agency to stop Sinclair’s proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media. Allied Progress says the one-week buy begins Friday and is promising the ads will run on four Sinclair-owned stations.
Los Angeles Times: “The real issue is whether any company should be able to amass control over so much of the public airwaves.”
Free Press and other groups challenge what they call the FCC’s dramatic reversal of media-ownership limits that pave way for media mergers, including Sinclair-Tribune.
Sinclair’s behavior in trying to merge with Tribune is doing it — and the entire broadcasting industry — no favors. By dragging out this process, and by pressing for every advantage, Sinclair is making life difficult for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who has been broadcasters’ best friend in that job in decades.
Meredith Corp. is looking to buy some Sinclair Broadcast Group TV stations as that conglomerate finalizes a merger with Tribune Media. Steve Lacy, executive chairman of the Meredith board, told an audience at a media conference Monday that he would ask the company’s board of directors later in the day for permission to bid on certain Sinclair stations it will divest to get FCC approval of the merger.
Sinclair Broadcast Group wants to sell WGN-TV Chicago to a Maryland auto dealer but would remain in control of the station in what critics say is a bid to skirt ownership limits and win federal regulatory approval for its proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media. Steven Fader, CEO of Atlantic Automotive,is a longtime business partner of Sinclair Executive Chairman David Smith.
Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.’s proposal to sell but still operate TV stations in New York, Chicago and other cities to win regulatory approval of its $3.9 billion purchase of Tribune Media Co. has drawn derision from critics of media consolidation.
Sinclair Broadcast Group has extended the deadline for the Justice Department’s decision regarding its proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media. In an SEC filing, Sinclair and Tribune said they had agreed to not consummate the merger before Jan. 30, but now that deadline has been moved to Feb. 11. Tribune and Sinclair also agreed to provide 10 days notice to the DOJ before closing the merger.
With anticipation that the Department of Justice will eventually give approval to Sinclair Broadcast Group’s acquisition of Tribune Media, what’s being watched now is just what stations the combined broadcasting giant will be forced to sell to secure a government green light. Recent filings with the FCC suggest that it will seek waivers to own more than one Top-4 station in a market.
In a Des Monies Register op-ed, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel bemoans the FCC’s relaxing of ownership rules and the proposed Sinclair-Tribune merger, saying “Washington should not be clearing the way for big companies to overwhelm local media markets. Because local traditions — and local coverage — matter.”
Sinclair Broadcast Group’s proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media would give the conservative-leaning company control of an additional TV station in Des Moines, Iowa — one of the most important presidential primary media markets in the country.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Justice Department has signaled it is willing to approve Sinclair Broadcast Group’s planned takeover of Tribune Media. but with a condition: It wants the companies to sell off roughly a dozen television stations. DOJ told the companies the deal as currently structured raises antitrust problems and that 12 to 13 station sales are necessary to alleviate concerns about competition in markets where a combined Sinclair-Tribune would otherwise have a commanding presence. Journal subscribers can read the full story here.
Sen. Claire McCaskill has written FCC Chairman Ajit Pai voicing concerns about the “negative impact” on the St. Louis media market from the proposed merger of Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media. “If the Sinclair-Tribune transaction is approved as proposed it would leave three stations in the hands of one company, including two of the top four stations in the market,” she wrote.
Sinclair Broadcast Group is close to accepting a remedy proposed by the Department of Justice to allow its $6.6 billion buyout of Tribune Media to gain regulatory approval. The feds want Sinclair, whose 193 TV stations spread over 89 markets makes it the largest TV station owner in the country, to sell 13 Tribune stations, sources say.
Nancy Pelosi, Frank Pallone and Mike Doyle tell the commission: “We write to remind the commission that it is prohibited from allowing any single company to own broadcast stations that break the national ownership cap. To comply with the law, the commission is required to order divestitures in any transaction in which a company — including Sinclair Broadcast Group — attempts to acquire stations that reach more than 39% of the national broadcast audience.”
Top House Democrats are calling for the chairman of the FCC to be investigated over whether he has been improperly clearing regulatory hurdles for the Sinclair Broadcast Group’s pending acquisition of Tribune Media.
Chris Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax Media, recently spelled out all the reasons he’s against the Sinclair-Tribune merger now before the FCC, except the real one. He’s way off base on almost every single claim. Here’s my point-by-point rebuttal.
In a letter to Sinclair Broadcast Group CEO Chris Ripley, Democratic Rep. Tony Cardenas asked tough questions about the Sinclair-Tribune merger.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is urging the FCC to block the proposed acquisition of Tribune Media Co. by Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns WICS-TV in Springfield. He also said it appears that the commission is “going out of (its) way to clear barriers to the deal by rolling back any rule that may pose a problem to it,” and that the acquisition would “threaten diversity and localism in broadcasting, ignore the unique concerns and interests of local audiences, and harm competition.”
Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy: “While President Trump has been condemning “fake news,” his very own FCC is pursuing policies that will lead to the greatest concentration of television media power in history.”
The fiery editorials of Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. chief political analyst Boris Epshteyn will be beamed into seven in 10 American living rooms if the company is allowed to complete a merger that would transform it into a nationwide conservative TV juggernaut. But Sinclair’s proposed $3.9 billion purchase of Tribune Media Co. is encountering opposition from unlikely foes: media stalwarts of the right.
At a special meeting held today, the stockholders of Tribune Media Co. voted overwhelmingly to approve the previously announced acquisition of the company by Sinclair Broadcast Group. “Today’s vote is an important milestone in the merger process and confirms that Tribune stockholders strongly support this transaction and the value it delivers,” said Peter Kern, Tribune Media’s CEO. “We look forward to continuing our work with Sinclair toward the closing of this deal.”
The FCC is pausing its review of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s proposed merger with Tribune Media to allow more time for the filing of public comments. The FCC is more than halfway through its 180-day timeline for review of the merger, which would create a broadcasting giant with 223 TV stations serving 108 markets. The FCC’s Media Bureau said it is pausing the review for 15 days until Nov. 2.
Sinclair Broadcast Group received bids for as many as 10 television stations that could fetch up to $1 billion as it takes steps to win approval of its proposed merger with Tribune Media, people familiar with the matter say. Preliminary bids for the stations were submitted last week, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the process wasn’t public. Sinclair may sell some or all of the outlets, all in different markets, the people said.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has told an opponent of Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.’s proposed purchase of Tribune Media that the agency may review media ownership rules before ruling on the $3.9 billion deal, something that could delay a decision on the merger.
I worry that as we focus on Russian bots on Twitter influencing elections, we’re ignoring a bigger threat to democracy and the political process right here at home: the proposed merger of Sinclair Broadcast Group with Tribune Media Co. Imagine what could happen to politics if Sinclair becomes the dominant local news gatekeeper.
In a speech before Catholic bishops, the Democratic FCC commissioner says she fears the Sinclair-Tribune merger will “do harm to the time-tested principles of diversity, localism and competition.” Because ATSC 3.0 signals are incompatible with TV receivers now in use, she says, the new standard will force consumers to buy new sets. “It’s a tax on every household with a television.” NAB counters that the commissioner “misunderstands” the standard.
In response to the FCC’s Sept. 14 request for “specific plans” on how it intends to comply with ownership limits, Sinclair said in a late filing today it would be “premature” to set forth any plans given the DOJs concurrent review of the deal and the possibility the FCC may relax the limits.
The FCC has finally gotten around to asking Sinclair how it intends to comply with the national and local ownership rules. The merger puts it in nominal violation of the caps and it will have to do something to get below them. I applaud the FCC move as the public has the right to know just how Sinclair plans to proceed.