Critics of Sinclair merger urge Dems to block FCC chair's reconfirmation

Critics of Sinclair merger urge Dems to block FCC chair's reconfirmation
© Greg Nash

Opponents of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s proposed acquisition of Tribune Media are calling on Senate Democrats to put a hold on the reconfirmation of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai.

A coalition of groups consisting of Allied Progress, Credo Action, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and Latino Victory is urging Democrats to block a vote on Pai’s reconfirmation until Congress holds a hearing on the Sinclair-Tribune deal.

Karl Frisch, the executive director of Allied Progress, told reporters on a call Wednesday that Pai and Congressional Republicans are abdicating their responsibility of providing oversight of the $3.9 billion deal.

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“Sinclair has done a good job of explaining how this deal would pad its bottom line and how its eventual goal is to control every single local TV station in the country, but it has failed to explain why this multi-billion dollar merger is in the public interest and how the merger complies with the FCC’s rules,” Frisch said.

Sinclair and the FCC declined to comment.

The deal has sparked opposition from various sides, including Democrats, public-interest groups, cable companies and even rival conservative media outlets. The critics worry that the deal, which would further solidify Sinclair’s standing as the nation’s largest owner of local television stations, could stifle independent media outlets.

Last week, the FCC asked Sinclair to provide more information about the proposed deal. Sinclair disclosed to the agency that the acquisition would put it over current broadcast ownership limits but did not adequately explain how it would bring itself into line with the cap, the FCC said.