IBEW Opposes Sinclair-Tribune Deal

Union says it is threat to consumers, competition
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The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), which represents almost 100,000 communications workers, says it is strongly opposed to the proposed merger of Sinclair and Tribune.

Lonnie Stephenson, IBEW international president, made no mention of the deal's impact on jobs in a letter to the FCC. Initial comments on the deal, including requests that it be dismissed or denied, were due Aug. 7.

Instead he pointed to the size of the combined company—230 stations in 108 markets reaching over 70% of the country and that consolidation's potential impact on competition and choice.

"Granting one company such massive market share significantly reduces competition and consumer choice," he said. "Furthermore, this proposed purchase is antithetical to the concept of a free and independent press and will hinder the important role local news stations play in giving the public unbiased information."

He strongly urged the FCC to reject the deal.

A Sinclair spokesperson said the company will address criticisms of the deal in its reply comments.

Sinclair has been accused of a conservative bias, which it denies. Its critics also complain that it could replace local programming with centralized content, which could mean news cutbacks and job losses.

In its public interest filing with the FCC, Sinclair said the deal would allow it to "upgrade the stations’ facilities, and expand the stations’ local coverage (including local news)."

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