Sinclair-Tribune Merger Opponents Keep the Faith Despite Long Odds

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

Ex-FCC commisioner Michael Copps admitted Tuesday that the deal is likely to go through.

Sinclair Broadcasting has until Thursday to respond to a request from the Federal Communications Commission for more information and documents regarding the broadcaster's pending acquisition of Tribune Media, which the FCC is reviewing. 

Michael Copps, a former FCC commissioner who is working with an organization that opposes the merger, the Coalition to Save Local Media, said on a press call on Tuesday that the deal is likely to go through. But, Copps and others in the coalition are confident that their opposition is getting across and that Sinclair is being put on the defensive.

Copps told The Hollywood Reporter that Sinclair has historically preferred a low profile, and "all of a sudden they find themselves a little more in the news with each passing day. That's bound to have an effect. Maybe some yellow caution lights are beginning to flash now. I sure hope so."

Charles Herring, the president of the conservative news network One America News, told THR that "when there is no good defense," a smart strategy is to keep a low profile.

Herring said that, to his knowledge, every right-leaning news company has spoken out against the deal for competitive reasons. On Sept. 27, Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy met with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and expressed his concerns about the deal.

Rep. David Price, a Democrat from North Carolina, said that Congress needs to take up the merger. "We need a lot more sand kicked up about this," he said on Tuesday's call. "We need hearings, we need members speaking out." On Friday (Sept. 29), a group of U.S. senators sent Pai a letter regarding a decision by the FCC to eliminate a cap that put limits on media ownership.

Even Hollywood is getting involved, to some degree. On Sept. 27, John Legend shared his opinions on Twitter about his cancelled WGN America show, Underground, in which he called out Sinclair for shaping local news coverage "to fit their right-wing agenda" and dropping shows like his "in favor of cheaper unscripted entertainment." In response, a Sinclair spokesperson pointed out that Sinclair does not yet own WGN "and has no influence on the programming decisions made by the channel."

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