Minority Programmer Backs Sinclair-Tribune Merger

Central City Productions CEO cites carriage of African American-targeted syndicated fare

It took some searching among the 1,732 comments on the Sinclair-Tribune merger filed with the FCC--the second most active docket in the past 30 days after network neutrality--but a supporter of the deal has surfaced among a sea of naysayers.

The owner of an independent programmer targeting the African-American community has written the FCC in support of the merger, praising Sinclair's commitment to its programming and citing his personal experience.

One big knock on the merger from deal critics is that Sinclair does not support a diversity of voices in the marketplace. But Don Jackson, CEO of Central City Productions in Chicago, said in a letter to FCC chair Ajit Pai filed in the deal docket that for the past 15 years, the Sinclair Station Group has "aggressively supported" his syndicated programming by giving it clearances on many of its stations in top African-American markets.

"Sinclair's partnership in carrying our shows clearly is an example of their diversity and localism commitment," Jackson wrote in a one-page letter, adding, "I believe that Sinclair's support of minority media content producers greatly advances the diversity efforts of the FCC."

Central City Productions shows include Black Enterprise Business ReportStellar Gospel Music Awards, Know Your Heritage, Black College Quiz and Our World With Black Enterprise.

The FCC on Nov. 2 resumed its consideration of the merger after pausing that review for a couple of weeks to let commenters, like Jackson, add to the record.