Valley congressman says FCC should put away its rubber stamp
November 8, 2017
• Jerry McNerney leads Congressional opposition to fast-tracking TV mergers
• “Will have a dramatic impact on the diversity of viewpoints American audiences will have access to”
The Federal Communications Commission should take a breath and give the American public the chance to weigh in on one of the largest mergers in television history, says U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton.
He is leading a group of members of Congress trying to get FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to stop the fast-tracking of the acquisition of Tribune Broadcasting by Sinclair Broadcasting.
“The FCC’s proposal to eliminate current television broadcast ownership rules bypasses a more common and transparent process for a decision of this magnitude,” says Mr. McNerney. “A repeal of these rules will have a dramatic impact on the diversity of viewpoints American audiences will have access to, and they are entitled to a public comment period to make their voices heard.”
Additionally, since the fast-tracking also includes elimination of the media cross-ownership rules, Sinclair would be able to acquire newspapers and radio stations in the same local markets in which it owns TV broadcasting stations.
Sinclair Broadcasting Group wants to buy Tribune Media Company (NYSE: TRCO) for $3.9 billion. The transaction would see Sinclair adding 42 TV stations to its existing portfolio of 117 stations. This would include one television station in the Central Valley, KTXL-TV, the Fox affiliate in Sacramento.
In the Central Valley, Sinclair already owns KBAK-TV, the CBS affiliate in Bakersfield; KMPH, the Fox station in Fresno; KFRE-TV, the CW station in Fresno; KRCR, the ABC affiliate in Chico, KCVU, the Fox affiliate for that markets plus six low-power stations in the Chico-Redding market. The deal would give Sinclair at least one television station in every market in the Central Valley from Bakersfield to Redding.
In a letter to Mr. Pai, Mr. McNerney, joined by 12 other members of Congress, says the elimination of the current ownership rules would make it easier for Sinclair Broadcast to merge with Tribune Media without having to make any divestitures. It calls on Mr. Pai to seek additional public comment on the proposed rule changes before taking further action.
Currently, the Commission is expected to vote on this proposal on November 16.