Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release


Timothy Karr, 201-533-8838

Press Release

Sinclair's Takeover of Tribune Stations Brought to You by Trump's FCC Chairman

Trump FCC loosens ownership limits to favor Trump-friendly broadcast conglomerate

Sinclair Broadcast Group, the nation’s largest television-station conglomerate, is set to get even larger, according to media reports over the weekend that it will soon finalize a deal to buy Tribune Media.

This massive media merger would add 42 Tribune stations to the Sinclair empire, including stations in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Denver and several other top-20 markets. Sinclair already owns 173 stations blanketing many other major cities, such as Baltimore, Minneapolis, Seattle, St. Louis and Washington, D.C., as well several stations in key electoral states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. If this deal is approved, the resulting conglomerate would be able to broadcast programming to 69.4 percent of the U.S. population.

Consolidation on this scale is only possible thanks to recent rule changes by Trump’s Federal Communications Commission. In April, the agency voted to reinstate an obsolete technical loophole called the UHF discount that allows broadcast conglomerates to exceed congressionally mandated national TV audience coverage limits.

The loosening of broadcast-ownership rules came following press reports that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai had conducted meetings with Sinclair executives days after the Nov. 8 presidential election. At the same time, Politico reported that Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was boasting privately about a deal he had struck before the election with the conservative broadcaster to air interviews with Trump un-interrupted by commentary. Pai was subsequently tapped by the Trump administration to lead the agency that enforces broadcast-ownership limits.

Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement:

“It's a scandal. Sinclair — the Trump-favoring broadcast mega-chain — gets some FCC rules changed and expects others to be erased. All so that Sinclair can air its cookie-cutter newscasts to nearly 70 percent of the country’s population in local markets across the country.

“The Trump FCC has been gaming the rules so that Sinclair’s holdings look smaller, but even then the company still exceeds the national ownership caps. These rules were designed to ensure a diversity of local voices, and Sinclair has been using every trick in the book to evade and undermine them for years. But under Trump, it no longer has to pretend.

“Sure looks like a quid pro quo: friendly coverage and full employment for ex-Trump mouthpieces in exchange for a green light to get as big as Sinclair wants. I feel terrible for the local journalists who will be forced to set aside their news judgment to air Trump-administration talking points and reactionary commentaries from Sinclair’s headquarters. This deal would have been DOA in any other administration, but the Trump FCC isn’t just approving it; they’re practically arranging it.”


Free Press was created to give people a voice in the crucial decisions that shape our media. We believe that positive social change, racial justice and meaningful engagement in public life require equitable access to technology, diverse and independent ownership of media platforms, and journalism that holds leaders accountable and tells people what’s actually happening in their communities.

Sanders Says Senate Bill 'Nowhere Near' Enough as Dems, GOP Tank His Amendments

The Vermont senator nevertheless supported final passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, calling it "a step forward" on climate and drug prices.

Jake Johnson ·

Senate Barely Approves Scaled Back Legislation on Climate, Taxes, Healthcare

But thanks to Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), there was a huge, last-minute win for the private equity and hedge fund industries

Common Dreams staff ·

'What the Hell is Wrong With Them': GOP Senators Kill $35 Cap on Insulin

'Republicans told millions of Americans who use insulin to go to hell.'

Common Dreams staff ·

World Faces 'Loaded Gun' on Hiroshima's 77th Anniversary

“We must ask: What have we learned from the mushroom cloud that swelled above this city?”

Common Dreams staff ·

'Extremely Concerned': Shelling of Europe's Biggest Nuclear Power Plant More Worrying Than Chernobyl

Ukraine said parts of the facility were "seriously damaged" by Russian military strikes.

Common Dreams staff ·

Common Dreams Logo