Free Press and Put People First! PA File Petition to Deny Sinclair’s Acquisition of Allbritton TV Stations
WASHINGTON -- Late Friday, Free Press and Put People First! PA filed a petition to deny several broadcast license transfers that are part of Sinclair Broadcasting Group's acquisition of Allbritton's TV stations. The deal, which is subject to review and approval by the Federal Communications Commission, would make Sinclair the largest broadcaster in the country, owning, operating, programming, or providing sales services to 149 television stations in 76 markets, and reaching 38 percent of Americans.
In three markets, Sinclair would acquire stations where it already holds licenses but where such concentration is prohibited by the FCC’s media ownership rules. Sinclair has said that it plans to divest the stations it currently owns in these cities, but immediately enter into Shared Services Agreements and Joint Sales Agreements with the shell companies taking on the licenses, which would allow Sinclair to retain control over those stations and circumvent the rules.
Sinclair also has pending deals to buy more than two dozen stations from Barrington Broadcasting, Fisher Communications and Titan Television.
To read the petition to deny, go to: http://www.freepress.net/sites/default/files/resources/FINAL_Sinclair_Allbritton_Petition_to_Deny_as_filed.pdf.
Free Press Policy Counsel Lauren Wilson made the following statement:
"Media consolidation threatens journalistic independence and diminishes the diverse, quality news coverage local communities deserve. The interests of those communities should not come second to those of industry shareholders.
"By Sinclair's own admission, this deal blatantly runs afoul of the Commission's media ownership limits, so it has crafted arrangements to evade those rules and let the company control multiple media outlets in the same market. Sinclair first conceived of the practice in 1991 and has been exploiting FCC loopholes ever since. The trend toward broadcast consolidation is only getting worse. It's time for the Commission to block these transactions and reestablish meaningful ownership limits."