WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Allied Progress released “State of Emergency: A State-By-State Guide to Sinclair’s Local Television News Takeover.” The report is a market-by-market analysis of Sinclair’s growing ownership stake of local news stations. If Sinclair’s pending acquisition of Tribune Media goes through, it will expand its reach to 72 percent of U.S. households. The report shows that following the merger, Sinclair would own or operate two or more local news stations in 52 markets throughout the country. Even worse, there are five markets where Sinclair would control over 60 percent of local news stations. This is the first state-by-state account of Sinclair’s control over local television news.
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“For the first time, the staggering reach of Sinclair’s local broadcast news empire has been exposed. This merger is nothing less than an attempted takeover of local news – a monopoly in the making,” said Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress.
He continued, “Sinclair is already the largest owner of local television stations in the country – and this merger would only make them even bigger – but what is truly scary is how much of local television news they control in market after market. Most people will be shocked to learn that Sinclair owns or operates 50%, even 67% of the local television news stations in some markets.
“No company should have such a dominant voice in local news. Gifting Sinclair access to 3 in 4 U.S. households will only drive up costs, push out other voices, and diminish independent journalism. Allowing this merger to go through would be an affront to the independent media we all value as Americans,” he concluded.
The Sinclair-Tribune merger would be in clear violation of FCC rules. Sinclair has admitted that in 14 markets the company would violate the FCC’s duopoly rule prohibiting any broadcasting company from owning more than one of the top four television stations in a media market. Furthermore, Sinclair has failed to demonstrate by any reasonable standard how the merger would serve the public interest, a core requirement for approval from the FCC. Deepak Gupta, an expert in consumer law and constitutional litigation, detailed the legal argument against the Sinclair-Tribune merger in an FCC filing on behalf of Allied Progress.
Some of the worst examples of Sinclair’s monopolistic takeover include:
Iowa – In this key presidential primary state, Sinclair currently owns or operates 9 local news stations. If the merger goes through, Sinclair would own or operate 12 stations in the state, controlling 40 percent of news stations in Des Moines, 50 percent of news stations in Cedar Rapids and Sioux City, and 67 percent of news stations in Keokuk and Ottumwa.
Michigan – Sinclair currently owns or operates five local news stations in Michigan. If the merger goes through, not only will Sinclair gain a sixth station in Grand Rapids, it will control 40 to 50 percent of local news stations in each market where it operates.
Texas – Sinclair currently owns or operates 11 local news stations in Texas. If the merger goes through, not only will Sinclair expand to reach Dallas and Houston, it will own or operate 67 percent of local news stations in Beaumont-Port Arthur.
Illinois – Sinclair currently owns or operates five local news stations in Illinois. If the merger is approved, not only will Sinclair expand to reach Chicago, it will own or operate 67 percent of local news stations in Quincy.
To speak with Karl Frisch about the Sinclair-Tribune merger, please contact Annette McDermott at 202-697-4804 or firstname.lastname@example.org.