August 09, 2018

Duckworth Statement on End of Proposed Tribune Media-Sinclair Broadcasting Group Merger


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Following Tribune Media’s announcement that it will withdraw from a proposed merger with Sinclair Broadcasting Group and sue Sinclair for breach of contract, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) issued the following statement:

“As I’ve long said, this merger would have reduced competition and threatened the quality of local news that Americans rely on while providing little public benefit. The decision to withdraw from this misguided merger is a victory for the free press, the First Amendment and all Americans who understand the value of knowing the truth. A diverse, un-biased news media is absolutely critical to a healthy democracy – but it is nearly impossible to safeguard when one organization amasses too much control of news content.”

Duckworth has long been an outspoken critic of Sinclair’s proposed acquisition of Tribune Media, which would have created the nation’s largest television company and allowed Sinclair to control local news stations in 72% of American homes, threatening to replace local control of the news with Sinclair programming. She and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) had called for the FCC’s review of the potential acquisition to be paused last month until the FCC’s administrative law judge had an opportunity to review the merger’s potential legal challenges.

In April, Duckworth and Durbin joined 20 of their Senate colleagues to call on FCC 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 pointed 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.