House Dems Push FCC to Wait for Court Ruling Before Sinclair-Tribune Merger
Congressman Tony Cárdenas (D-CA)and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) led 39 colleagues in a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, urging the agency not to rule on the Sinclair-Tribune deal until a federal appeals court rules on whether the FCC's return of the ultra high frequency (UHF) discount, which made the deal possible, will stand. Under FCC ownership rules, TV station group owners cannot own stations that reach more than 39% of the nation. Pai is poised to schedule a July 12th vote on altering rules. The UHF discount, which was reinstated by Pai last year, allows companies to count only half of their coverage toward that cap -- but a vote next month by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit could change that rule. And should the courts rule against the FCC in Free Press v. FCC, the Sinclair-Tribune merger would be unlawful as it would push Sinclair over the existing national cap. “Due process is important,” the letter reads. “If the FCC approves the merger before A DC Circuit decision that strikes down the UHF discount, the FCC will have created government-sanctioned Sinclair dominance of the broadcast industry. No other company will be able to compete with the combine Sinclair-Tribune, but as importantly, nor should we want any content company to reach that scale of outsize power.” In April, Pai said he would factor the potential ruling into the FCC's decision-making but would not commit to delaying a decision on the merger. More here.