Prevent the Expansion of Sinclair Broadcasting
Sinclair Broadcasting, a heavily right-wing leaning media company, has been working to acquire Tribune Media in order to expand its reach into households across the country. Already the nation's largest TV broadcast company with stations in 81 markets reaching 38% of U.S. households, Sinclair's potential $3.9 billion merger with Tribune Media would add to its roster another 42 stations, extending its reach to a colossal 72% of U.S. households. Though Congress imposed an audience cap of 39% on media companies, the FCC is reviving a technologically obsolete loophole called the "UHF discount" to help Sinclair proceed with its expansion. In 1985, to make up for the shorter range of UHF broadcasts, the FCC began to discount UHF stations by cutting their market size in half when calculating their national audience reach. The quality gap no longer exists thanks to the proliferation of digital TV, but the FCC plans to use the UHF discount to help Sinclair skirt past the broadcast ownership rule. The expansion of Sinclair's reach is troubling due to the company's frequent use of "must run" segments. The national company forces the local news stations they own to air segments produced by their national headquarters, often hosted by former Trump aide now Sinclair employee Boris Epshteyn, that are filled with extreme right-wing propaganda. This practice not only injects inaccurate and partisan rhetoric into the news media at a dangerously effective level, it also imposes excessive control over local news stations. The timing of the Sinclair-Tribune merger has also raised questions of quid pro quo. During the election, Sinclair-owned stations aired a disproportionate amount of positive coverage for Trump. Now, the Trump administration's FCC Chairman is delivering regulatory roll backs to help Sinclair grow its enterprise."