Sinclair’s Tribune takeover draws opposition from both ends of political spectrum | Broadcast | News | Rapid TV News
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Call it a tale of strange bedfellows: those on the political right and the political left, along with pay-TV companies like DISH Network and tech companies like Google, are opposing Sinclair Broadcast Group’s bid for Tribune Media.

tribune 11 aug 2017The news comes as Tribune reported $466.1 million in television and entertainment revenues during the second quarter of 2017, down $2.1 million year-over-year. The slide was due to a $17.2 million decrease in net core advertising revenue, and an $8.9 million decrease in net political advertising revenue, Tribune said. Those losses were largely offset by an increase in retransmission revenues of $21.7 million, or 26%, and an increase in carriage fee revenues of $1.5 million, or 5%.

Opponents of the proposed $3.9 billion Sinclair-Tribune deal include DISH Network, the American Cable Association, Competitive Carriers Association, advocacy group Common Cause, plus conservative news channels One America News Network, Newsmax and Glenn Beck's The Blaze. Also opposed is the Computer and Communications Industry Association, which represents Google, Amazon and other tech companies, and T-Mobile USA, which is concerned the deal could delay the transfer of broadcast airwaves spectrum for wireless use.

Sinclair, which owns 173 local television stations in the US, announced plans in May to acquire Tribune's 42 TV stations in 33 markets as well as cable network WGN America and digital multicast network Antenna TV, extending its reach to 72% of American households. Many have filed petitions with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), saying that further consolidation in the broadcast market would narrow viewing choices for millions of Americans, and give the conservative-leaning Sinclair too much influence over local news content.

"A free and diverse press, a bedrock principle of American democracy, will be crippled by this proposed merger," Newsmax said in one filing.

Pay-TV companies, meanwhile, are concerned about the retransmission landscape. The Tribune merger "would turn Sinclair into the nation’s largest broadcast conglomerate and lead to higher prices, more station blackouts, less choice, and less local news for millions of consumers," DISH said in its filing with the FCC.

Sinclair CEO Christopher Ripley has defended the move. "The industry needs to consolidate to two or three large broadcasters, and really just one to two strong local players in each market ... There's significant savings to be had putting local content players together on a local level,” he said.

In April, the FCC reversed a 2016 decision limiting the number of television stations that broadcasters can own, opening the door for mega-mergers like this one.