CU Comments to the FCC Opposing Sinclair-Tribune Transaction

Consumers Union is troubled by the Sinclair-Tribune merger and how, if approved, it will harm consumers with higher prices. Aside from our particular concerns regarding the UHF discount and the FCC’s public interest test, we strongly believe this merger is likely to exacerbate the harms caused by a dysfunctional retransmission consent system, a system where fees charged by broadcast groups like Sinclair have risen at many times the rate of inflation in just the past ten years, and where station blackouts to extract higher retransmission fees have become too common. Though MVPDs have endured increased costs on the losing side of the bargaining table, it is consumers who have lost the most when those rate increases are passed on to them in the form of company-imposed add-on fees. We believe the Commission must consider remedies that effectively address these concerns as part of its public interest review of this transaction.