The Communications Workers of America, NewsGuild and NABET (National Association of Broadcast Engineers and Technicians) filed reply comments at the FCC opposing the Sinclair-Tribune merger on Aug. 29. The unions argued that the merger would reduce viewpoint diversity, harm localism, and reduce jobs.
“The substantial merger-related harm that would result from a Sinclair-Tribune combination – including massive consolidation in violation of Commission rules, the continued use of JSAs [Joint Service Agreements] and SSAs [Shared Service Agreements] to get around media ownership limits, the imposition of central casting to reduce localism and viewpoint diversity, and the associated job loss – simply cannot be resolved by station divestiture,” the comments read. “The Commission should deny the Sinclair-Tribune application.”
In addition, the unions warned of Sinclair’s corporate-driven “central casting” must-run segments, which replace local programming with programming originated from Sinclair’s corporate headquarters in Baltimore, MD. This policy forces stations to cover particular issues in a particular way with a particular – often right-wing – viewpoint, regardless of station decisions. “This is long-standing practice at Sinclair,” the unions said. “It is antithetical to the Commission’s localism principle.”
Earlier this year, Sinclair Broadcast Group announced a deal to purchase Tribune Media Company for $3.9 billion. Opposition to the merger has been growing since it was announced and includes groups from across the political spectrum from right-wing media groups like Newsmax and The Blaze to industry groups like the American Cable Association to public interest groups like Common Cause and Free Press.