Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sinclair Defends Deal That Could Give It 3 St. Louis TV Stations

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sinclair Defends Deal That Could Give It 3 St. Louis TV Stations

Article excerpt

Sinclair Broadcast Group is firing back at critics of its plan to acquire Chicago-based Tribune Media Co. for $3.9 billion and become the nation's largest broadcaster, saying the deal will create scale and efficiencies that will ensure the future of free, over-the-air television.

Sinclair filed a petition late Tuesday with the Federal Communications Commission opposing numerous requests for the government to deny the acquisition. Groups such as Dish Network LLC, the American Cable Association, Free Press, Public Knowledge and Common Cause have filed such requests with the FCC.

Chris Ripley, Sinclair's president and CEO, said in a statement Wednesday that the company "firmly believes in the mission of local broadcasting This acquisition will help to ensure the future of the free and local television model for both Tribune and Sinclair's local communities."

Sinclair announced its plan in May to buy Tribune, which would give it 233 television stations that reach 72 percent of U.S. households. The deal is made possible by a recent FCC decision to relax station ownership rules.

In St. Louis, Sinclair owns KDNL (Channel 30) while Tribune Media owns KTVI (Channel 2) and KPLR (Channel 11).

The FCC in April reinstated the "UHF discount." It allows stations broadcasting on those higher frequency airwaves to count only half their audience against a cap allowing a single company to own stations reaching no more than 39 percent of the nation's television households.

The FCC's rule change which could allow Sinclair to potentially retain all three St. Louis stations has been criticized by media watchdogs and others who say they are worried about the concentration of ownership. Analysts have said they expect the deal to trigger a wave of media consolidation as traditional broadcasters vie for viewers and advertisers in a digital age.

Most opponents have complained that the deal would not serve the public interest and violate the broadcast ownership cap, even with the UHF discount in place. Critics also echoed long-running criticism that Sinclair uses its news broadcasts to advocate conservative views. …

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