Unions Unite Against Sinclair/Tribune

Point to job losses among other issues

Various unions have lined up against the Sinclair/Tribune merger, concerned, among other things, that the meld's synergies will mean job losses.

Asking the FCC to deny the $3.9 billion merger were the Communications Workers of America, the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians and The News Guild.

"A merger between Sinclair and Tribune would reduce viewpoint diversity and competition, harm localism, and reduce jobs," the unions told the FCC in asking it to deny the application for license transfers.

Related: NCTA Seeks Regulatory 'Guardrails' on Sinclair/Tribune

"Sinclair has been a leader in joint service and shared service agreements," they told the FCC. "These agreements result in fewer stations producing news, less time devoted to local news, and also fewer broadcast station employees and journalists. The primary cost-saving in these models is the reduction of employees through the elimination of locally-originated programming at one or more of the affected stations by duplicating (or triplicating) the same programming."

The unions said Sinclair had reduced the number of workers per station by eight percent over a decade.

"In the first quarter of 2007, Sinclair employed, on average, 48 workers per station," it said. "As of December 2016, Sinclair has approximately 8,400 employees working at 191 stations, a ratio of 44 workers per station."

Related: Sinclair/Tribune Foes Remain Unmoved

Sinclair has vigorously defended the deal to the FCC, including pointing out it had invested $40 million in the Fisher and Allbritton station groups it has already acquired and has boosted local news across its stations by 221.5 hour per week over the past three years. It said in that defense that some petitioners were creating "a sensationalist picture of mass firings" and said that "while there have been staffing reductions over the years consistent with a variety of different businesses in highly competitive fields, most if not all of the employees who have lost positions have by now been replaced so that staffing at many of the stations Sinclair has acquired now exceed those original staff levels."