Today, members of the Coalition to Save Local Media announced their filings to the Federal Communications Commission during the reopened public comment period for the proposed Sinclair Broadcast Group-Tribune Media merger. As a group, Members continued to highlight how Sinclair and Tribune have failed to provide adequate evidence that their mega-merger is in the public interest and called for the FCC to deny the merger.
Filings from organizations listed below will be available here after they are filed.
“Sinclair’s failure to provide adequate documents and responses to the FCC’s first RFI is very concerning, and the FCC should not let these important questions go unanswered when trying to evaluate the impact the proposed transaction would have on the industry, competition, and most importantly, consumers,” said CCA President & CEO Steven K. Berry. “Competitive carriers spent valuable time and financial resources purchasing spectrum in the 600 MHz auction, and with the important repacking stage up next, it is critically important to understand the impact that a merger of this size will have on the repacking process. Any delay in the 39-month timeframe will harm consumers, the economy and carriers that purchased the spectrum, and with so much riding on the line, Sinclair must be required to provide sufficient documents and responses.”
CCIA’s filing can be found here.
“This transaction will lead to job cuts, less local investment, diminished diversity of voices, and delays for 5G mobile broadband deployment,” said Ed Black, President & CEO, Computer & Communications Industry Association. “The Commission does a disservice to the public if it is approved. Under the FCC’s public interest standard, Sinclair is obligated to prove to the Commission that this merger will yield real benefits to consumers — and that those benefits outweigh the harms. Sinclair has failed to do that. Sinclair has a history of behavior that harms consumers, jobs and ultimately democracy. This election has shown us the danger of news manipulation.”
DISH’s filing can be found here.
From the DISH filing: “Sinclair has submitted an insufficient response to the set of questions propounded by the Media Bureau that were themselves insufficient to allow the Commission to discharge its responsibilities. As a result, the Commission does not have enough information to conclude that Sinclair’s acquisition of Tribune will serve the public interest, convenience and necessity. There is no basis in the record for determining that the transaction will enhance competition, that it will not produce anticompetitive effects, or that it will produce benefits offsetting its effects. Without this record, an approval of the transaction would be contrary to both the Communications Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.”
The independent networks’ filing, which includes AWE, Cinémoi, One America News Network, RIDE TV, and TheBlaze can be found here.
“It’s wrong that regulators are working to effectively eliminate diverse voices from our airwaves,” said Daphna Ziman, Cinémoi President and Co-Founder. “This merger takes another step towards a dangerously high degree of media consolidation that would hurt women and minority owned networks like Cinémoi. The FCC, Department of Justice, and other parties should prevent these mega media mergers from having unchecked leverage to extract higher prices with less content choices for consumers.”
“The excessive, unbalanced market power that Sinclair could wield post-merger, will hurt consumers and independent media voices,” said Charles Herring, President of One America News Network. “Sinclair raised its broadcast rates by 38% over last year. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t get a 38% increase in my pay over last year. Yet Sinclair has used its unbalanced market powers to ‘negotiate’ a 38% increase for its must-have broadcast feeds. This is why consumers across the country are upset by their ever-increasing cable bills. If consumers want to put a stop to cable bill increases, the Sinclair – Tribune merger must be stopped dead in its tracks now.”
NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association’s filing can be found here.
“Sinclair and Tribune continue to offer little justification for their request to become a broadcasting behemoth and have failed to address the substantial harms this merger would have on consumers – in particular those consumers living in our country’s most sparsely populated rural areas,” said Jill Canfield, Vice President of Legal & Industry at NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association. “The Commission asked Sinclair for specific information to support its claim that the merger would result in ‘greater value’ for video providers. Sinclair did not comply with this request. The record in this proceeding clearly shows that video and broadband providers, particularly small ones serving rural consumers, will be harmed if this merger is approved. Sinclair and Tribune also failed to address the effects the merger would have on consumers who are out of range of over-the-air broadcast signals, and who must pay to receive broadcast channels. The FCC must reject this merger. If it does not, consumers – especially rural consumers – will pay the price in the form of higher fees for broadcast content.”
RIDE TV’s filing can be found here.
“The 30 million Americans that ride horses and live the equine lifestyle are no-nonsense people,” said Michael Fletcher, CEO of RIDE TV. “Many are self-made small business owners. This proposed merger is not in their interest. This deal would put too much control of our public airwaves in the hands of a single company and that has never worked out well for consumers. The FCC, Congress, Department of Justice, and others should look closely at the comments made in this period and closely examine how this merger would impact small businesses and consumers.”