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US: Unions petition FCC to block Sinclair-Tribune merger

 |  June 24, 2018

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on June 20 to deny applications from Tribune Media Company and Sinclair Broadcast Group to transfer control of 42 Tribune TV stations and other media holdings to Sinclair.

“…Sinclair and Tribune have failed to demonstrate in their application and in the ensuing months that any purported merger-related benefits exceed the substantial public interest harms,” the CWA petition said. “On the contrary, it remains clear that the Sinclair-Tribune merger does not serve the public interest because it would violate the congressionally mandated 39% national audience cap, reduce competition, harm localism, eliminate jobs, and diminish viewpoint diversity.”

Saying the post-merger Sinclair would be the largest broadcaster in the country, the petition asserted that the company would have a footprint reaching 72% of US TV households. “Even with Sinclair’s latest divestiture amendments, New Sinclair would own or operate 215 stations in 102 markets, reaching 59 percent of television households and violating the cap by 20%,” the petition said.

The petition also objected to Sinclair’s use of joint service agreements and shared service agreements —called “sidecar agreements”—and their application post merger. “If the merger is approved, Sinclair would have a controlled duopoly or sidecar arrangement in 63 television markets, or almost 60 percent of the merged company’s total markets,” it said.

Full Content: TV Technology

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