FOR RELEASE: June 27, 2019
Contact: Richard T. Kaplar
The Media Institute
Arlington, Va., June 27, 2019 – Media Institute President Richard T. Kaplar issued the following statement regarding a request from Senators Warren, Sanders, and Booker that the FCC and DOJ review the acquisition of 21 regional sports networks (RSNs) by Sinclair Broadcast Group from The Walt Disney Company:
“Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Cory Booker have sent a letter to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and the head of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division urging them ‘to review Sinclair’s recent acquisition of 21 RSNs from Disney and the effects it would have on consumers.’
“While the senators make an elaborate (if convoluted) case that this acquisition could raise prices for consumers, it seems obvious their underlying concern is that this acquisition would allow Sinclair ‘to force its partisan political messaging on a larger swath of the American population.’ A company’s political viewpoint is not a criterion for the government to approve or disapprove a media transaction.
“It is hard to imagine a more egregious affront to the First Amendment than members of the U.S. Senate attempting to stop a media company from disseminating political views, whatever those might be. ‘Media scarcity’ as a rationale for governmental meddling to enhance viewpoint diversity belongs to a bygone era. Legislative and regulatory options for government regulation of media content are proscribed for good reason.
“The attempt by these senators to control media content through the thinly veiled means of an antitrust review should be seen for what it is: a misguided, inappropriate, and politicized effort to squelch a viewpoint with which they disagree.”
The Media Institute is a nonprofit research foundation working to advance sound communications policy, freedom of speech, and excellence in journalism. For more information, visit the Institute online at www.mediainstitute.org.
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