Sinclair tries to appease regulators

Sinclair has announced a deal to sell seven broadcast stations to 21st Century Fox for $910 million. The deal is part of a larger divestiture plan, which Sinclair hopes will convince regulators to approve the massive Sinclair-Tribune merger.

Sinclair wants to buy Tribune for $3.9 billion, creating a broadcasting behemoth and giving Sinclair the ability to push its political spin into more than 70% of US television households. The merger is currently under review at the DOJ and the FCC. It should be denied.

Even with the sale of seven stations to Fox, Sinclair’s divestiture plan is still a scam. While Sinclair claims it will sell 23 stations, the plan is full of problems. First, Sinclair divests at least four stations to companies with close ties to the Smith family, which owns Sinclair, essentially retaining control of these stations. Second, Sinclair admits it will enter into joint and shared service agreements with four stations, including WGN in Chicago. These agreements are used to skirt FCC ownership rules. Most important, Sinclair’s divestiture of only 23 stations will still leave the merged company with almost 200 stations and far in excess of the 39 percent the congressionally mandated audience reach limit.

“This merger is not in the interest of consumers and would hurt local media across the country,” the Coalition to Save Local Media, a politically diverse group opposed to the merger, said in response to the divestiture plan. “We continue to call for meaningful time for review and public comment on the Sinclair-Tribune merger and for it ultimately to be denied.”

 

Links:

Sinclair Broadcast Group agrees to sell seven TV stations to Fox (Los Angeles Times, May 9, 2018)

Sinclair to buy Tribune for $3.9 billion (Speed Matters, May 12, 2017)

Sinclair’s newest divestiture plan is still a scam (Speed Matters, Apr. 25, 2018)