NABET-CWA and eight organizations from across the political spectrum filed a letter of support for a motion to suspend the FCC’s review of the Sinclair-Tribune merger until after the DC Circuit rules on the UHF discount. Public Knowledge and Common Cause filed the motion at the end of June, writing that while the petitioners “continue to maintain that the proposed transaction should be denied in its entirety […] the Commission should place further consideration of the transaction in abeyance until the DC Circuit issues a mandate in the UHF discount proceeding.”
The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit heard a case about the UHF discount in April. The UHF discount is an outdated method of measuring audience reach. The only purpose it serves – and the reason Trump’s FCC reversed the Obama FCC’s decision – is to allow broadcast companies to skirt FCC rules and consolidate. The court is expected to rule in August.
“The UHF discount is a technically-obsolete rule that would allow Sinclair to acquire a national audience reach far in excess of the congressionally-mandated 39% cap,” the letter of support reads. “Specifically, Sinclair’s most recent divestiture plan relies on the UHF discount to reduce its post-transaction reach from 58.77% to 37.39%, only 1.61% below the cap. If the Commission’s reinstatement of the UHF discount is vacated by the DC Circuit, Sinclair would have to make significant divestitures – greater than four times the currently-proposed divestitures – to comply with ownership limit.”
“While we continue to maintain that the transaction should be denied in its entirety,” the letter concludes, “for the foregoing reasons, we respectfully request the Commission grant the Petitioners’ motion and take no further action in this proceeding until the DC Circuit has completed its review of the UHF discount.”
NABET-CWA, the union of broadcast employees and technicians affiliated with the Communications Workers of America, were joined by Newsmax, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Herndon-Reston Indivisible, NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association, RIDE TV, Cinemoi, the Sports Fans Coalition, and the United Church of Christ, OC Inc.
Letter of Support for PK, CC petition to suspend Sinclair-Tribune merger review (FCC, July 9, 2018)
Public Knowledge, Common Cause file FCC petition to suspend Sinclair-Tribune merger (Speed Matters, June 29, 2018)
UHF discount gets its day in court (Speed Matters, Apr. 20, 2018)