Sinclair Broadcast Group, the nation’s largest television broadcaster, is set to expand its reach into nearly three-quarters of American households, a prospect that has elicited concerns both commercial and ideological. Known for pushing “must-run” segments of reliably conservative political commentary, Sinclair’s expansion has raised hackles among media watchdog groups.
In May, the Maryland-based Sinclair announced its $3.9 billion purchase of Tribune Media Co., which would expand its reach to major markets including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The deal, Politico’s Margaret Harding McGill and John Hendel report, would not be possible if not for a decision by Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to revive a decades-old regulatory loophole that will keep Sinclair from vastly exceeding federal limits on media ownership. By adding 42 Tribune stations to the 173 it already owns, Sinclair will be in 72 percent of American homes, a number that would far exceed the federal limit on media ownership if not for Pai’s action.
Opposition to the deal is coalescing, if belatedly, across the media landscape. “Pushback against Sinclair’s growing dominance is coming in all forms, shapes and sizes—even from its ideological allies,” writes Axios’ David McCabe. Executives from smaller conservative outlets like One America News Network to industry groups like the American Cable Association are urging the FCC to reject the merger, claiming that such consolidation would result in less competition and higher prices for consumers. Given Pai’s previous statements, however, resistance to the deal appears futile.
Below, more on one of the most important media players that you may not know much about.
- The revolution will be televised: Bloomberg’s Felix Gillette goes deep on Sinclair’s history, political positions, and plans for the future.
- Opponents unite: Monday was the deadline for initial public comments on Sinclair’s proposed purchase of Tribune Media. Variety’s Cynthia Littleton reports that “A coalition of TV and media industry entities is urging the FCC to reject” the deal.
- Sign of trouble?: Last week, Bloomberg’s Anousha Sakoui reported that Fox was considering abandoning Sinclair for another broadcaster over concerns about Sinclair’s expanded reach.
- The Trump connection: In the aftermath of the 2016 election, The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi looked at how Sinclair helped Trump’s campaign.
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- Last week, BuzzFeed published two stories that identified secret surveillance flights being conducted in the US. Peter Aldhous, one of the reporters behind those pieces, has a cool explainer for CJR on how he used machine learning to find the spy planes.
- The New York Times’s Michael Grynbaum profiles new White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
- CNN will not be sold after AT&T completes its acquisition of the cable network’s parent company, Time Warner. That, from AT&T executive John Stankey in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter’s Kim Masters.
- Politico’s Annie Karni writes that, despite his constant media bashing, President Trump still loves the press enough to pay a staffer $89,000 to find and promote positive stories.