U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, D-RI, today criticized the Sinclair Broadcast Group’s proposed $3.9 billion merger with Tribune Media. Sinclair is the owner of WJAR-Channel 10 in the Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts market.
“A single gatekeeper of local news and programming is a threat to a free and diverse press,” Cicilline said in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice. “Local stations acquired by Sinclair frequently complain that Sinclair’s programming, including must-run segments are too politically tilted and occasionally of poor quality.”
“In Providence, these segments have rattled viewers and the station’s own news reporters on Rhode Island’s most watched television station,” said Cicilline.
The FCC and the DOJ are required to approve the planned merger. “This unprecedented merger threatens to raise prices for millions of working American families through higher cable bills, result in layoffs in newsrooms and stations across the country and undermine the freedom and diversity of the press,” said Cicilline.
Sinclair has been criticized for insisting that local stations the company owns, including Channel 10-WJAR, insert conservative commentary and commentary supportive of President Donald Trump into local news broadcasts.