Sinclair Deal Debated On Hill

Sinclair/Tribune deal friends and foes clashed on Capitol Hill Nov 15 at a debate and panel session hosted by the Georgetown Law’s Institute for Technology Law & Policy. The forum did not break a lot of new ground, but there was some scorched earth, particularly when the issue of shared services and joint sales agreements came up. Benton Senior Counselor at the Public Interest Communications Law Project at Georgetown University Law Center's Institute for Public Representation (IPR) Andrew Schwartzman suggested they were an end run around ownership rules and a "disgrace." Sinclair fans suggested that if they skirted the FCC rules, why did the FCC issue guidance on how to set them up. Because FCC staffers have been in the pocket of broadcasters for decades, Schwartzman shot back, to some audible breath-catching.

One bit of news, from Sinclair's Rebecca Hansen, was that of the potential buyers lined up to purchase any deal spin-off stations, if any are required as is likely, 20% are minorities. Jim Winston, president of the National Association of Black-owned Broadcasters, who was one of the panelists, signaled his hope was that the deal would be pro-diversity, at least in the sense of providing some opportunities for more black-owned broadcasters. The event, which featured a nearly full house audience--there were more bodies than box lunches, for example--also dealt more broadly with the necessity of media ownership rules in general. 


Sinclair Deal Debated On Hill