Senate Committee Fails to Adequately Question Nominees for FCC Commissioner on Massive Sinclair-Tribune Merger Deal as Republicans Rush to Wrap up Hearing Before Meeting with President Trump
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation heard from President Trump’s three nominees to serve as commissioners on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). During the hearing, senators hardly touched on the issue of the massive $3.9 billion merger between conservative media outlet Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media. At the outset of the committee meeting, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) informed the committee they would need to rush through questioning so that Republicans could go to a noon meeting at the White House.
“It is shameful that this merger would allow Sinclair to control local news stations reaching 72 percent of American households, yet Senators barely even touched on the subject before rushing to the White House for a meeting with Trump,” said Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress.
He continued, “The Senate must take this merger seriously and do its due diligence by investigating the anti-trust conflicts arising from the unprecedented scope of this deal. Senators Mike Lee and Amy Klobuchar have the responsibility to hold hearings in the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights to fully examine this merger and the impact it will have on local news and American consumers.”
The pending Sinclair-Tribune merger deal was made possible by the FCC’s decision in April to change the UHF rule determining how many households a single company can reach with its news programming. Prior to the FCC’s rule change, an entity could only own stations reaching up to 39 percent of households. With this merger, Sinclair would acquire Tribune’s 42 local news stations and reach an unprecedented 72 percent of households.
Sinclair, known for its conservative slant, has garnered headlines for forcing local stations to air politically biased editorials ahead of elections, cutting a deal with Jared Kushner to give the Trump campaign special treatment in its coverage, and most recently has been seen as a potential home for embattled conservative media stars like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity.
To speak with Karl Frisch about the Sinclair merger or the nominees for FCC commissioner, please contact Tucker Middleton at 202-644-8526 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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