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FCC Quietly Allows Sinclair to Take Control of 7 More TV Stations in Friday Night News Dump

Phillip Dampier July 3, 2017 Competition, Consumer News, Online Video, Public Policy & Gov't 2 Comments

The Federal Communications Commission on Friday quietly approved the transfer of seven high-power television station licenses owned by Bluestone Television/Bonten Media to Sinclair Broadcast Group without informing the sole Democratic commissioner Mignon Clyburn of the agency’s action.

An FCC letter informing Sinclair it approved of the transfer of licenses also included an authorization allowing KCFW (NBC) Kalispell, Mont., to continue operating as a satellite station of KECI (NBC) Missoula.

“Given that KCFW is the only full-power television station in its community of license, is located in a community of license with limited economic viability, and is costly to operate as a stand-alone station, it is unlikely that an alternative operator would be willing and able to purchase or operate the station as a stand-alone facility,” the FCC wrote. “Moreover, KCFW has operated as a satellite of KECI under Commission authority for almost 50 years, most recently reauthorized in 2007 in the Missoula DMA, and we see no evidence in the record that continuing the satellite exemption will harm competition in that market,” the FCC added.

The transfer may put Sinclair over the FCC’s station ownership cap, unless the agency changes its rules to favor Sinclair’s ongoing expansion. Sinclair is already the nation’s biggest owner of local television stations.

Commissioner Clyburn was reportedly not happy to learn about the FCC’s decision only through media reports and tweeted her displeasure this morning, calling the announcement part of a “Friday night news dump.”

The stations involved:

  • WCYB (NBC) Tri-Cities, Tenn./Vir.
  • KRCR (ABC) Chico-Redding, Calif.
  • KECI (NBC) Missoula, Mont.
  • KCFW (NBC) Kalispell, Mont. (satellite station simulcasts KECI)
  • KTXS (ABC) Abilene-Sweetwater, Tex.
  • KTVM (NBC) Butte-Bozeman, Mont.
  • KAEF (ABC) Eureka, Calif.

Most of the television stations are in smaller television markets but will still profit Sinclair because most operate profitable local news operations.

Sinclair’s growing domination of local television station ownership concerned HBO’s John Oliver enough that he spent almost 20 minutes of his Last Week Tonight with John Oliver show discussing how Sinclair’s owners have a history of skewing local newscasts to cater to its own political agenda. (Strong Language) (19 minutes)

Currently there are 2 comments on this Article:

  1. Joe Siegler says:

    You guys see this? It’s John Oliver talking about Sinclair. Just this past Sunday.

  2. JayS says:

    One would think that Sinclair producing ‘must carry’ news segments should only matter in any specific Tv market/city where Sinclair owns multiple stations that are producing local news; then people would have less choice in the editorial style of local news.

    Are there any major Tv Markets/cities (top 100) where Sinclair owns more than one major network affiliate, that has must carry national news programming(ABC,CBS,NBC,FOX), where Sinclair is producing local newscasts on two or more direct competitors?







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