As Sinclair-Tribune megamerger looms, groups ask FCC to block return of UHF discount

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With the prospect of the Sinclair-Tribune megamerger on the horizon, groups are urging the Federal Communications Commission to block the return of the UHF discount in order to slow broadcast industry consolidation. In a joint filing to the FCC, Free Press, United Church of Christ, Prometheus Radio Project, Media Mobilizing Project, Media Alliance, National Hispanic Media Coalition and Common Cause requested a stay of the reinstatement of the UHF discount, which would allow broadcasters to once again count UHF stations as 50 percent toward the national broadcast ownership cap. The groups argued that the technical logic for the UHF discount is no longer valid.

“It is arbitrary and capricious to adopt a provision that lacks any independent technical or policy support, and which contravenes the statutory limit on national television ownership,” the groups wrote in the filing. The groups also argued that news of the reinstatement is effectively triggering a new wave of broadcast industry mergers and acquisitions and allowing deals like Sinclair’s $3.9 billion bid for Tribune to move forward. The groups also said that a stay will benefit the public interest by maintaining more diversity in broadcasting. “Maintaining a diversity of voices goes to the heart of the Commission’s mission to promote competition and diversity, and all Americans will benefit from the grant of a stay,” the groups wrote.


As Sinclair-Tribune megamerger looms, groups ask FCC to block return of UHF discount