On August the 7th, DISH Network LLC petitioned the FCC to encourage the federal agency to deny the proposed merger. Sinclair Broadcast Group announced earlier this year that it planned to acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion. If DISH has their way, the FCC will shut down the merger. DISH made the nearly 200-page petition available online. In the document, the group laid out several key factors for denying the merger, including the fact that the transaction would violate FCC rules.
The acquisition would effectively make Sinclair the country’s largest broadcast conglomerate. In return, DISH believes the move would lead to higher prices, more blackouts, fewer choices, and less local news for consumers. DISH points out that the New Sinclair company would own more than 500 television stations and reach 72% of American households. The company would simultaneously own more than a single station in 37 markets.
DISH’s experts also believe that consumers will face higher prices after the merger is finalized. DISH believes that New Sinclair will use its size to demand and acquire greater price increases, which would not be possible with Sinclair and Tribune as standalone companies. DISH admits that a portion of the price increase would most likely be passed on by DISH and other distributors to the consumer. The company’s experts also insist the merger could speed up the progressive increase of retransmission fees.
In the filing, DISH makes references to Sinclair’s supposed history of buying a station, hollowing out the talent and doing away with local content. DISH alleges that Sinclair replaced locally-produced programming with centrally produced content. While giving the appearance that the content has been produced from a local studio, it is actually written at Sinclair’s corporate headquarters in Baltimore. DISH claims Sinclair has engaged in such behavior for at least 27 Sinclair-owned stations, including for stations it acquired from Allbritton and Fisher.
DISH accuses Sinclair of attempting to do away with the rules to get their merger approved by the FCC. DISH encourages the applicants to refile their application along with a waiver request or divestiture commitment. Additional details can be found here.