AP Photo/Steve Ruark, File

Opposition is coalescing against the $3.9 billion Sinclair-Tribune merger. Among the critics are smaller conservative media outlets.

Conservative fears: Sinclair is famously right-leaning and some have speculated it could launch a Fox News competitor as its power grows. One America News Network President Charles Herring expressed concerns Monday that a post-merger company could use its market power to give that kind of project a leg up over smaller competitors. Newsmax, another outlet on the right, has also expressed reservations about the merger.

Why it matters: Pushback against Sinclair's growing dominance is coming in all forms, shapes and sizes — even from its ideological allies. Last week, Sinclair stock slipped following reports that its biggest rival, 21st Century Fox, may pull Fox affiliate stations from the broadcasting behemoth. The Murdoch-controlled company, which also considered buying Tribune stations, is concerned that a post-merger Sinclair would have increased leverage in negotiations for carrying the programming.

Sinclair has more than 170 stations in 81 markets, covering 30% of U.S. households. The merger would add an additional 33 markets to its holdings, allowing it to reach 72% of households. A post-merger Sinclair would hold 7 of the biggest 10 markets, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

The FCC has approved rules loosening restrictions on how many stations a single company can own.

Who else is opposed: Monday was the deadline to ask the FCC to block the deal. One America joined a coalition of public interest and trade groups asking the FCC to deny the merger. Dish has also asked the agency to reject the deal. They all say the transaction would violate ownership rules and be bad for consumers by decreasing programming choice. The FCC declined to comment.

What Sinclair says: Executive chairman David Smith argued when the deal was announced that it would allow the company "to better serve our viewers and advertisers while creating value for our shareholders."

Our thought bubble: The regulatory winds look good for Sinclair. It's got an anti-regulatory FCC and close ties to the White House.

Go deeper

Stocks close down more than 3%

Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld via Getty Images

Stocks took a hit on Wednesday, with the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrials Average and Nasdaq dropping more than 3% across the board.

Why it matters: The volatility is a break from the stock market grinding higher in the face of spiking coronavirus cases, a stalling economy and gridlocked negotiations over an additional stimulus package.

Zeta, now a Category 2 Hurricane, closes in on Louisiana coast

The probable path of Zeta, per the National Hurricane Center. Photo: NHC/NOAA

Zeta strengthened on Wednesday afternoon, on track to make landfall along the southeastern coast of Louisiana by the afternoon as a "significant" Category 2 hurricane, per the National Hurricane Center.

The state of play: Zeta is producing 100-mph maximum sustained winds and stronger gusts. The storm is gaining strength as it heads northeastward at 20 mph. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) requested a pre-landfall Emergency Declaration in a letter to President Trump on Tuesday.

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