The FCC has opened up its website for the public to comment on the proposed merger between Sinclair Broadcasting Group and Tribune Media. According to Variety, if the deal closes, as it’s expected to, “Sinclair would own, operate, or serve 233 television stations in 108 markets, making it by far, the biggest independent owner of Fox affiliates.”
Count Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver among those who are opposed to the deal, which he said could bring Sinclair’s “noticeably conservative” politics into local newsrooms. According to Sinclair’s website, the acquisition will add 42 TV stations to the 173 it already owns, giving the network an even broader reach. That’s problematic, according to Oliver—who addressed the merger earlier this month—because the company’s stations often inject conservative political views into local news, where people don’t expect it:
“If the opinions were confined to just the commentary or the ad breaks, that would be one thing. But Sinclair can sometimes dictate the content of your local newscasts as well, and in contrast to Fox News, a conservative outlet where you basically know what you’re getting, with Sinclair, they’re injecting Fox-worthy content into the mouths of your local news anchors, the two people who you know, and who you trust, and whose on-screen chemistry can usually best be described as two people.”
“You may not realize it’s happening, because Sinclair and its digital news subsidiary Circa not only produce and send packages to their stations; they even write scripts that local anchors use to introduce the pieces.”
The FCC is currently reviewing the $3.9 billion deal between the two media companies to determine if it’s in the public interest. As The Hill notes, while the merger would result in Sinclair exceeding national television ownership limits, the deal is expected to be approved—unless the public really makes its voice heard.