ACA Takes Aim at Sinclair/New Age


The American Cable Association has asked the Federal Communications Commission to either put conditions on Sinclair’s proposed purchase of the New Age TV stations or designate them for a hearing. ACA also wants the FCC commissioners to decide, rather than leaving the decision at the Media Bureau level.

“ACA submits that the applications as submitted cannot be approved under the public-interest standard,” ACA said in its filing.”

Sinclair announced in late September that it had struck a $90 million deal for New Age’s eight stations and would be spinning off some to Cunningham Broadcasting, with which it has an ongoing operating relationship. The deal came on the eve of the FCC’s decision to propose eliminating the UHF discount, which would put Sinclair near the 39% ownership cap and limit any future Sinclair purchases.

ACA has already filed a petition to condition or block some of the Sinclair/Allbritton station purchases and Gannett/ Belo deal spin-offs as broadcasters look to load up on retransmission-consent opportunities (see cover story) and has the same issue with the New Age deal.

“ACA is concerned about the effect of the transaction on two markets where the transaction would result in Sinclair entering into agreements that allow it to coordinate the negotiation of retransmission-consent agreements for two top-four rated Big Four television stations,” it said.

As with other Sinclair “sidecar” deals, ACA argues that in those two markets, Sinclair will have virtual duopolies that could collude in retrans negotiations.