Three liberal U.S. Senators, all of whom are presidential candidates, have teamed up to oppose Sinclair Media’s pending purchase of the former Fox RSNs because they don’t like Sinclair’s conservative-leaning politics.
Sinclair has struck a deal with Charter to purchase the regional sports networks from Disney, but the deal is not quite finalized as it has to be approved by the Federal Communications Commission before going ahead, Awful Announcing reported.
The three left-wing Senators spoke out against the deal and urged FCC Chair Ajit Pai to scotch the purchase.
Senators Bernie Sanders (I, VT), Cory Booker (D, NJ), and Elizabeth Warren (D, MA), insisted that “Sinclair has an explicit interest in, and commitment to, relaying partisan political messages to its viewers” and that alone is enough to claim that its purchase of the FSNs is an example of “anti-competitive expansion.”
The three added that Sinclair’s coverage of President Donald Trump is too positive, but the Senators also claim that Sinclair will engage in price gouging.
“The RSNs Sinclair purchased from Disney — collectively ‘the largest group of commonly controlled RSNs’ — reach approximately 74 million subscribers across the country and have the rights to telecast the games of almost half of all the professional sports teams in three of the four major American sports leagues,” the senator wrote in their letter to the FCC.
“Sinclair, which now owns nearly two dozen RSNs, could market to distributors combinations of sports and local television channels that they have to offer to consumers as a bundle package,” the senators wrote. “Distributors understand the value of live sports, and the limited number of un-bundled live sport streaming options available to consumers leave ‘sports fans … tethered to their cable bundle.’ Therefore, the agreement with Disney offers Sinclair an opportunity to charge consumers more by packaging their cable and broadcast programs.”
The charging situation may be less worrisome than the three candidates for the 2020 Democrat nomination fear. The actual deal specifies that there will be a “slight increase” in the rates putting a cap on any gouging that might occur. One also might think that sudden huge increases would kill the networks subscriber base before the company fairly gets started running it.
It remains to be seen if the words of the senators will have any impact on the FCC’s decision making on the matter.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.