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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

Updated 25 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Dominion files $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani

Photo: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani on Monday seeking $1.3 billion in damages for his "demonstrably false” allegations about the company's voting machines.

Why it matters: Giuliani led former President Trump's efforts to overturn the results of the election and spread the baseless conspiracy theory that Dominion's voting machines flipped votes from Trump to Joe Biden.

Mike Lindell moves the goalposts on a run for Minnesota governor

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell waits outside the West Wing of the White House before entering on Jan. 15. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The will-he-or-won't-he speculation surrounding a possible gubernatorial run by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is destined to continue at least a bit longer.

What he's saying: Lindell told Axios that his focus is currently on proving his (baseless) claims of election fraud. He won't make a decision until that fight is resolved.

Wall Street pencils in virus variants as latest economic risk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wall Street is pinning its bets of an economic rebound this year on mass vaccinations and a virus brought under control, but new coronavirus strains threaten that sunny outlook, a number of firms are warning.

Why it matters: None downgraded growth forecasts because of the variants, but they’re acknowledging there’s a new asterisk to the anticipated economic recovery.

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