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Sinclair Feeling Resistance From FCC Over Tribune Merger

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By Kenneth White

Sinclair Broadcast Group, recently in the news for a backlash at having anchors read identical scripts on the air, has met resistance from the FCC in regards to its purchase of Tribune Media, Co. At issue is the compliance requirement imposed by the FCC that Sinclair provide plans to spin off certain Tribune-owned television stations. Under the plan Sinclair Broadcasting would sell one or more Tribune stations in eight markets, two of which are WPIX-TV (NY) and WGN-TV (IL).

The purchasers are revealed to be Cunningham Broadcasting Corp. and Steve Fader CEO of Atlantic Automotive Corp. Both parties have long ties to Sinclair and its executive chairman, David Smith. Cunningham Broadcasting Corp is controlled by the estate of Carolyn Smith Cunningham, David’s mother. Mr. Smith sits on the board of Atlantic Automotive Corp., and is a partner of Mr. Fader in that enterprise. The FCC is looking for more distance between the Sinclair Broadcasting Group in order to fulfill compliance regulations.

The fact that many experts feel the merger will go through is also meeting controversy around the same regulation that the FCC does not allow any single company to reach over 39 percent of households. According to Bradley Blakeman in a Newsmax article, party line FCC voting last fall (2017) weakened regulations designed to deny the possibility of such a merger.

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