Sinclair’s well-earned reputation precedes it, and invites scrutiny at every turn.
A trio of Democratic presidential hopefuls are urging a thorough examination of Disney’s $10.6 billion sale of its 21 regional sports networks to Sinclair Broadcast Group.
In a letter this week, US Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker asked the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission to scrutinize the deal partly because of Sinclair’s history of “partisan political messaging.”
“It is clear that Sinclair has an explicit interest in, and commitment to, relaying partisan political messages to its viewers — making its recent anti-competitive expansion attempts into millions of additional households all the more concerning,” the lawmakers wrote.
Disney agreed to sell the regional sports TV networks for $71.3 billion.
Sinclair still needs DOJ and FCC approval.
The Democratic presidential candidates charged that Sinclair has a history of issuing “must-run programming directives.”
Last year, for example, Sinclair forced local stations to run a two-minute commentary defending “the use of tear gas on migrants at the border,” according to the letter.
The lawmakers’ Monday letter also expressed fears that Sinclair, which owned nearly 200 TV stations before acquiring the 21 RSNs put up for sale by Disney, could use its added clout to raise prices for cable customers.
The deal stands to bring 74 million RSN subscribers to Sinclair, with broadcasts of nearly half of the professional teams in three of the four major US sports leagues.
Because of the limited number of unbundled live sports streaming options, the senators claim the deal would leave sports fans “tethered to their cable bundle