July 17, 2018

Duckworth, Durbin Statement on FCC’s Sinclair-Tribune Merger Action


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Following Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai’s statement yesterday expressing “serious concerns” about Sinclair Broadcast Group’s proposed acquisition of Tribune Media and calling for the FCC’s review of the potential acquisition to be paused so certain legal questions can be resolved by the FCC’s administrative law judge, U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) released the following statement:

“After months of sounding the alarm on a proposed merger that would provide questionable public benefit, pose a threat to localism and diversity and reduce competition in Illinois, this is a positive step from the FCC that underscores our concerns,” the Senators said. “We look forward to the FCC’s hearing designation order and hope the Commission will protect the public interest by blocking this merger once and for all.”

In April, Duckworth and Durbin joined 20 of their Senate colleagues to call on Chairman Pai to cease all media ownership rulemaking and pending merger reviews until the commission completes a review of the U.S. broadcast landscape and the federal court makes its ruling on the FCC’s previous media ownership actions. In January, the Senators joined eight colleagues in urging the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division and FCC to closely scrutinize media mergers that fall within their jurisdictions, particularly the proposed Sinclair Broadcasting-Tribune Media merger.

Last year, Duckworth and Durbin joined 12 of their Senate colleagues to request the inspector general of the FCC open an investigation into the objectivity and impartiality of the FCC’s review of the proposed merger of Sinclair Broadcasting and Tribune Media.  In their letter to the inspector general, the senators point out 16 actions and events that suggest a disturbing pattern of a three way quid-pro-quo involving Sinclair, the Trump Administration and Chairman Ajit Pai.