Sinclair Broadcasting, a rightwing media company and also the nation's largest TV broadcaster, is currently attempting to acquire Tribune Media to expand its market reach. The deal would add 42 stations to the 81 markets it already owns, extending its reach to 72% of U.S. households.
Yet Congress has already imposed a cap of 39% on media companies. The FCC, however, is using a loophole called the "UHF discount" to help Sinclair expand.
Sinclair's expansion is troubling because the company frequently imposes "must run" segments in local news broadcasts, forcing local news stations to give air time to former Trump aide (and now Sinclair employee) Boris Epshteyn. Epshteyn, unsurprisingly, parrots White House talking points, such as how James Comey's testimony on Capitol Hill was actually worse for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump.
In addition, Sinclair imposes a "must-run" segment known as the "Terrorism Alert Desk", which heaps fearmongering rhetoric onto non-newsworthy stories – especially stories about minorities and immigrants. This not only injects rightwing rhetoric into the news, but also consolidates Trump's control over our local news stations to a dangerous degree.
Today, we are going to call the FCC chairman and our Congresspeople to stop Sinclair's expansion.
WHO TO CALL:
Ajit Pai, FCC Chairman
Senators Kennedy and Cassidy
Representatives Scalise OR Richmond
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai: 202-418-1000
Senator Bill Cassidy - DC OFFICE: (202) 224-5824 and METAIRIE OFFICE: (504) 838-0130 (NOTE: If you can't get through to Metairie, try one of the other offices, such as Monroe: (318) 324-2111, Lake Charles: (337) 493-5398, or Alexandria: Phone: (318) 448-7176)
Senator John Kennedy - DC OFFICE: (202) 224-4623 and MONROE OFFICE (318) 361-1489
Representative Scalise: DC OFFICE: 202-225-3015 OR Representative Richmond: DC OFFICE: 202-225-6636
Because of how Congressional districts are drawn, New Orleans residents have either Richmond or Scalise as their representative. If you don't know who your representative is, you can look it up by entering your home address on the U.S. House of Representatives website.
Reminders: Identify where you're calling from (town and zip code is fine) so they know you're an actual constituent. Be concise - the office will get through more calls that way. Be polite and don't argue with the staffer - they don't set policy. If you get a voicemail, then leave a message. And if you get a busy signal -- call back later!
Hi, my name is [Your Name] from New Orleans, zip code 70118 [or wherever you're from].
I'm calling today in opposition to the merger of Sinclair Broadcasting and Tribune Media. The merger would expand Sinclair's reach beyond its legal audience cap of 39% to a massive 72% of US households. The FCC should not bend its rules or roll back regulations in order to grow Sinclair's pro-Trump messaging.
Thank you for your time and your hard work answering the phones. Stay safe out there.
This call is courtesy of Metairie Indivisible.