In a new letter to the Federal Communications Commission, members of the Coalition to Save Local Media are urging the agency to not restart the 180-day transaction shot clock, in light of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s latest filing, which falls considerably short of offering an adequate and unambiguous explanation of how Sinclair will comply with media ownership rules.
From the letter:
“15 members of the Coalition to Save Local Media urge the Commission not to restart the shot clock until Sinclair submits, and staff and all interested parties have had a chance to review and comment on, a filing that is genuinely responsive to the Bureau and sets forth clearly and unambiguously how Sinclair will comply with the ownership rules.
“Sinclair purports to provide a detailed plan for divestiture of stations, but the ‘plan’ is an empty vessel. Sinclair says it is applying for authority to place 23 stations in 10 markets into a divestiture trust. However, buried in a footnote, Sinclair acknowledges that this is not a definitive list of what will actually get divested, but rather a placeholder list subject to further changes. Sinclair does not explain, nor could it, how this gives Commission staff a ‘full and complete record’ on which to decide the application.
“Of perhaps even greater concern, the Sinclair Submission takes an extraordinarily distorted view of what qualifies as a station ‘divestiture.’ … But, again buried in footnotes, Sinclair shows that this is not the complete story… In plain English, these sidecar arrangements give Sinclair the ability to continue to manage the stations after they have been acquired by third parties, with the option to buy them back at some future time. If Sinclair regains ownership of these stations, its audience reach would soar above the current ownership cap to 45 percent with the technologically obsolete UHF discount or over 70 percent without it.”