FCC asks Sinclair for more information on Tribune deal

FCC asks Sinclair for more information on Tribune deal
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The Federal Communications Commission is asking the Sinclair Broadcast Group to provide more information about its proposal to acquire Tribune Media, a deal that is pending the agency’s approval.

The $3.9 billion acquisition has generated opposition from an unlikely band of critics that includes cable companies, Democrats, public interest groups and even rival conservative news outlets.

The conservative-leaning Sinclair is the largest owner of local television stations across the country. According to information already submitted to the FCC, its purchase of Tribune would put it over the 39 percent limit on how much of the nation’s TV-viewing audience it can serve.

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Sinclair declined to comment.

On Friday, the FCC Media Bureau chief Michelle Carey wrote a letter to Sinclair asking it to present more information about how large its audience currently is and the steps it plans to take to stay under the ownership cap.

Opponents of the deal quickly applauded the FCC’s request. The Coalition to Save Local Media, a bloc of groups opposed to the acquisition, said the company still needs to “justify how this merger is in the public interest.”

“A combined Sinclair-Tribune would create the single largest operator of local broadcast stations in the country, a massive consolidation that will stifle local, independent journalism and lead to fewer choices and higher prices for consumers,” the group said in a statement. “The FCC and Department of Justice should closely scrutinize this merger and deny it.”