A national sports fans' organization has joined the opposition to a $3.9 billion merger of Sinclair Broadcasting Group and Tribune Media, urging the Federal Communications Commission to "throw a flag on this deal."
In a statement provided to Newsmax, Sports Fan Coalition charged the merger will decimate local coverage of sports.
"This merger would be bad for sports fans," Brian Hess, acting executive director of the coalition, said in the statement. "|The FCC should throw a flag on this deal."
According to Hess, Sinclair "historically has bought local broadcast TV stations, fired local sports reporters, and replaced local staff with corporate multitaskers at its East Coast headquarters."
"Tribune has legendary sports journalists, including at its flagship Chicago station, WGN-TV," he said. "If past is prologue, fans of local high school, college, and professional sports coverage in Tribune markets should be very concerned."
Hess charged Sinclair has failed to demonstrate its local sports coverage "is any better than Tribune's or the broadcast industry generally."
"It failed to show that this merger is in the public interest by expanding fans' access to the games they love," he charged.
The sports fans group also has complained on its website blog a Sinclair takeover would increase game blackouts.
"Sinclair's history proves that they don't care about blackouts," the group wrote. "They've used them regularly as a negotiating tactic against television distributors to charge increased retransmission fees. . . . The monopoly that this merger will result in will just exacerbate this issue."
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