Aug 8, 2017

New conservative media boogeyman: Sinclair

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

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Japan's economy minister outlined plans on Monday to end the nationwide state of emergency as the number of new novel coronavirus cases continues to decline to less than 50 a day, per Bloomberg. Japan has reported 16,550 cases and 820 deaths.

By the numbers: Over 5.4 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.1 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 13.7 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,800 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 5,401,701 — Total deaths: 345,060 — Total recoveries — 2,149,407Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 1,643,238 — Total deaths: 97,720 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,195Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

President Trump doubled down on his push to reopen schools, tweeting late Sunday: "Schools in our country should be opened ASAP."

Zoom in: Trump pushed back on NIAD Director Anthony Fauci cautioning against the move earlier this month, calling his concerns "not an acceptable answer."