Washington — In comments filed with the FCC today, the Computer & Communications Industry Association urged the FCC to reject Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s proposed takeover of Tribune Media Company, because Sinclair has failed to show any tangible way that this benefits the public interest. The combined company would be the single largest operator of local broadcast stations in the country, reaching 72 percent of American households. CCIA also noted that Sinclair has a history of requiring local stations to run identical news material.
Under the FCC’s public interest standard, Sinclair must prove to the Commission that this merger will yield real benefits to consumers—not just to the combined company—and that those benefits outweigh the harms. Sinclair has not done that. The initial “Comprehensive Exhibit” it submitted to the FCC was neither comprehensive nor did it exhibit anything short of lip service in the fewer than two and a half pages it spent on the public interest benefits of this merger. Furthermore, the combined company could adversely affect the public interest by delaying the availability of spectrum that is necessary to bring broadband to rural and underserved areas.
CCIA has advocated on competition and access to information issues for 45 years. The following can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:
“Sinclair has failed to explain how this multi-billion dollar merger could possibly be in the public interest. Even more, allowing this centrally controlled broadcast behemoth that has a history of cutting local news staff and adversely affect independent, local TV stations would be detrimental. Anyone who values decentralized government control, states rights and independent voices should oppose this merger that would harm citizens and weaken our democracy.
“It’s a concern that a merger that would be so harmful to rural areas, independent news stations and citizens could even be considered. The FCC should reject this takeover proposal outright, and Congress needs to hold hearings to more thoroughly understand the media landscape and how critical independent local broadcast stations are in a democracy.”