The right-wing oligarchs are at it again, with their full-court press to take down America’s liberal enlightenment. While you were listening to Sally Yates, or researching location of the nearest bomb shelters, Sinclair Broadcasting Group was negotiating for control of local media markets by purchase of Tribune Media Co. Here’s Liana B. Baker and Rishika Sadam of Reuters:
“Tribune’s portfolio would help expand Sinclair’s already vast network of 173 stations in 81 U.S. markets and marks the largest acquisition for the Baltimore-based company.
Sinclair also gets cable network WGN America and a stake in the Food Network, a joint venture between Tribune and Scripps Network Interactive Inc (SNI.O).”
Mike Snider of USA Today notes: “The combined company will cover 72% of U.S. homes across 108 markets including 39 of the top 50, Sinclair says. ‘This combination creates the largest TV broadcasting company in the country,’ Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley said Monday during a conference call discussing the deal.
The deal wouldn’t have been feasible until last month’s decision by the Federal Communications Commission to ease limits on TV-station ownership. Currently, a media company can own multiple TV stations as long as its market share doesn’t exceed 39% nationwide.”
Matthew Sheffield at Salon notes: “Adding WGN to its portfolio will allow Sinclair to begin beefing up its news operations to achieve a truly national audience for its content. WGN America is in the basic package of most cable and satellite companies and available in just more than 62 percent of households with televisions, according to television data company Zap2it.
That type of reach is critical because the biggest problem for any new cable channel is convincing cable operators to carry that channel. This has been an enormous difficulty for several would-be Fox News competitors, including NewsMax, The Blaze and One America News. All of them have had difficulty gaining carriage, and it’s greatly harmed their ability to reach potential viewers who might be willing to switch loyalties in light of several big changes to the Fox News lineup, including the firing of its top-rated host Bill O’Reilly and the departure of Megyn Kelly, a rising star at the channel who departed for NBC.”
In the Hartford, Connecticut region, where I live, the purchase will include WTIC-TV-61 and WCCT-TV-20.
The Sinclair purchase should raise red-flags merely because it further concentrates media power in fewer and fewer hands – almost doubling the coverage allowed by the prior 39 percent FCC limit. But this purchase is particularly alarming because Sinclair already has a reputation for pushing the right-wing agenda. Here’s J Gibson at Daily Kos:
“We have some sad news to report on this evening: It appears likely that the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group will purchase the Tribune stations, several of which have long and storied legacies such as WGN, WPIX, KPLR, WGN America, and KTLA.
If this disastrous news holds up, the fate of several on-air and off-air employees on the payrolls at the soon-to-be former Tribune stations will be a dire one, the quality of the newscasts will suffer, and the legacies of the stations will be ruined as well. And to make things worse, expect the stations to air the mandatory right-wing propaganda pieces, shows, and specials mandated by the suits at the HQ in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Sinclair is a group well-known for its pro–Trump/GOP shilling. “
See this article by Bobby Lewis in Media Matters, “Trump Campaign Made A Deal With Media Organization For ‘Straighter Coverage’ During Election Trump’s Son-In-Law Admits Trump Team ‘Struck A Deal With Sinclair Broadcast Group’”
Lewis notes: “On December 16 Politico reported Sinclair Broadcast Group promised Kushner they ‘would broadcast their Trump interviews across the country without commentary’ using their ‘television stations across the country in many swing states.’ Scott Livingston, vice president of news at Sinclair, claimed the deal was aimed at ‘hear[ing] more directly from candidate on the issue instead of hearing all the spin and all the rhetoric…”
So, while you are bemoaning the fact that Trump’s election was visibly assisted by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News shilling pro-Trump propaganda 24/7, consider that right-wing Sinclair now wants in on the fun. This is one more issue to fight – one more reform to add to the list when we finally rid ourselves of the Trump curse. A return to restrictions on monopolies in the media is not only a must, but a no-brainer for a free society. Let’s take our country back.