Dish says Sinclair will launch ‘systematic assault on local content’ if it gets Tribune

Sinclair Broadcast Group headquarters
Both the satellite operator and the trade group filed comments with the FCC Monday, urging the agency to resist a merger that would create a 200-plus station super group, managed centrally by an ideologically charged, right-tilted owner based in Baltimore. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun)

Two key pay-TV constituents, Dish Network and the American Cable Association, are leading a lobbying assault against Sinclair’s proposed $3.9 billion takeover of Tribune Media.

Both the satellite operator and the trade group filed comments with the FCC Monday, urging the agency to resist a merger that would create a 200-plus station super group, managed centrally by an ideologically charged, right-tilted owner based in Baltimore. 

“The combination of the two companies would create a broadcasting behemoth with unprecedented control over both the national and local television markets—inflicting tremendous harm to competition and consumers,” the ACA said in its comments

ACA said that Sinclair is assuming the FCC will over-ride rules limiting station ownership. “But even if the transaction were not per se unlawful, the Commission should still deny it because this massive consolidation is not in the public interest,” the group added. 

Dish Network, meanwhile, said in its filing that Sinclair’s strategy of centrally managing programming would result in a “systematic assault against local content.” Dish also said that the merger would drive up broadcast retransmission licensing fees.

Speaking in a Monday conference call to voice group opposition to the merger—which also featured executives from ACA, Common Cause, the Competitive Carriers Association and the Computer and Communications Industry Association—America One News Network President Charles Herring seconded Dish’s retrans claim.

“They’re able to ask for excessive rates currently for their broadcast services,” he said. “That raises prices for the consumer and consumes programming budgets, preventing independent sources of programming from being able to complete deals with MVPDs for the fees needed to sustain themselves,” Herring said.

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