FCC is extending the 180-day shot clock on its review of Sinclair’s proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media, giving interested parties until Nov. 2 to further comment on the deal.
The proposed transaction has drawn opposition from pay TV operator Dish Network, public interest groups and lawmakers. A group representing Dish, as well as the American Cable Association and the Competitive Carriers Association, urged the FCC to intensify its focus during the extended comment period.
“Throughout this process, Sinclair and Tribune have failed to provide adequate justification that this merger is in the public interest and have not answered questions raised by the FCC and other parties in this proceeding. In this comment period, the FCC, as well as the Department of Justice and other parties, should pay close attention to the serious concerns that continue to be raised. This merger should be denied,” The Save Local Media Coalition said in an email statement.
Last week, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel voiced her concerns about the merger and the actions taken by the Commission under Chairman Ajit Pai that appear to favor Sinclair.
“Before I returned to the commission, the agency inexplicably resurrected an outdated and scientifically inaccurate system for tallying station ownership, known as the UHF discount. It also reversed an effort to investigate joint sales agreements. Both steps helped speed the way for this transaction—which would combine two broadcasting giants: Tribune and Sinclair,” Rosenworcel said.
“I’m not alone in my concerns about the concentration that will result from this proposed transaction. I’m not alone in my fear that it will do harm to the time-tested principles of diversity, localism and competition. There is opposition across the political spectrum,” she added.
Despite that opposition, Sinclair stills seems confident the deal will close. During this week’s NAB Show in New York, Sinclair CEO Christopher Ripley told an audience it was a matter of when, not if, the deal will be approved.
Meanwhile, Tribune Media shareholders are gearing up for a vote on the acquisition on Thursday.
Sinclair will be buying Tribune’s 42 television stations in 33 markets, cable network WGN America, digital multicast network Antenna TV, and a minority stake in Food Network.