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FCC Chair Raises “Serious Concerns” About Sinclair-Tribune Merger: Statement by Consumers Union

Monday, July 16, 2018

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, today made the following statement after Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai expressed “serious concerns” about Sinclair Broadcast Group’s proposed merger with Tribune Media. Pai is asking his fellow commissioners at the FCC to approve a draft order that would send the deal and the details of the companies’ proposed divestitures to a hearing before an administrative law judge, a move that could effectively kill the deal.

 

Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, said, “The chairman is right to raise a red flag about this deal.  This merger would allow one company to control local TV stations reaching nearly three-quarters of the country. It would create an unprecedented level of consolidation in the broadcast TV market.  The deal would hurt competition and the diversity of media voices, and the combined company would have enormous leverage when it comes to the retransmission of their content by pay TV services, which could ultimately lead to higher prices for consumers.

 

“Today’s FCC proposal is a significant hurdle for the deal, and we believe it’s justified, given the potential harms to consumers and competition,” he added.

 

Last fall, Consumers Union filed formal comments with the FCC to outline its concerns about the merger.  Those comments are available online here.

 

Contact: David Butler, dbutler@consumer.org

 

Consumers Union is the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. For 80 years, CR has provided evidence-based product testing and ratings, rigorous research, hard-hitting investigative journalism, public education, and steadfast policy action on behalf of consumers’ interests. Unconstrained by advertising or other commercial influences, CR has exposed landmark public health and safety issues and strives to be a catalyst for pro-consumer changes in the marketplace. From championing responsible auto safety standards, to winning food and water protections, to enhancing healthcare quality, to fighting back against predatory lenders in the financial markets, Consumer Reports has always been on the front lines, raising the voices of consumers.