Sens. Cory BookerCory BookerDOJ announces agencywide limits on chokeholds and no-knock entries Fighting poverty, the Biden way Top Senate Democrats urge Biden to take immediate action on home confinement program MORE (D-N.J.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats urge Biden to commute sentences of 4K people on home confinement Briahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' Sanders 'disappointed' in House panel's vote on drug prices MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenFederal Reserve officials' stock trading sparks ethics review Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE (D-Mass.), all 2020 White House hopefuls, are urging officials to review Sinclair Broadcast Group's acquisition of 21 regional sports networks, saying the media conglomerate relays "partisan political messages" to viewers.
“It is clear that Sinclair has an explicit interest in, and commitment to, relaying partisan political messages to its viewers — making its recent anti competitive expansion attempts into millions of additional households all the more concerning,” they wrote in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Department of Justice.
“The RSNs [regional sports networks] Sinclair purchased from Disney — collectively ‘the largest group of commonly controlled RSNs’ — reach approximately 74 million subscribers across the country and have the rights to telecast the games of almost half of all the professional sports teams in three of the four major American sports leagues,” their letter continues.
The senators warn that Sinclair “could market to distributors combinations of sports and local television channels that they have to offer to consumers as a bundle package" with the $10.6 billion acquisition.
“Distributors understand the value of live sports and the limited number of un-bundled live sport streaming options available to consumers leave ‘sports fans ... tethered to their cable bundle,’ ” they added. “Therefore, the agreement with Disney offers Sinclair an opportunity to charge consumers more by packaging their cable and broadcast programs.”
The accusation and review request comes one year after a Sinclair-Tribune Company merger collapsed after the FCC rejected it, citing "serious concerns" regarding side transactions Sinclair had proposed to meet media ownership restrictions. The deal would have allowed Sinclair to be in almost three-quarters of U.S. homes.
Sinclair has several conservative commentators on its roster, including former Trump 2016 campaign senior adviser Boris Epshteyn, former Trump deputy adviser Sebastian GorkaSebastian Lukacs GorkaGreitens Senate bid creates headache for GOP YouTube bans Sebastian Gorka's channel after repeated violations Lou Dobbs retweets supporters blasting decision to cancel show MORE, and Blaze Media host Eric Bolling.
The Maryland-based Sinclair was founded in 1971. It currently is in 39 percent of American homes.