The Sinclair Broadcast Group headquartered in Hunt Valley owns and operates the most television stations across the United States. Including pending deals, according to the Wall Street Journal, Sinclair owns 118 stations and operates 45 stations it doesn’t own.
Sinclair manages this feat through ‘sidecar deals’ that allow companies to manage television stations it doesn’t own. Another term for these sidecar deals is “outsourcing agreements,” which a Free Press report published this month says are “designed to evade [Federal Communications Commission] rules.”
The deals are either vital workaround agreements for TV stations to compete in an era of increasingly web-based programming, or loopholes that “violate the spirit” of Federal Communications Commission ownership rules. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Opponents of media consolidation say broadcasters use sidecar agreements as loopholes that let them violate the spirit of FCC ownership rules, which the agency says promote “competition, localism and diversity.”
When one owner manages multiple stations in a market, they say, it reduces local-news quality and variety, and drives up pay-TV bills.
The Free Press report says Sinclair is “leading the wave of [TV station] consolidation,” meaning that if the FCC approves all of Sinclair’s pending deals, stations owned by the broadcast company “will reach 38.8 percent of the national audience, up from just 22 percent two years ago.”
At least one Baltimore-based startup is looking to capitalize on Sinclair’s rapid expansion: crime-mapping website SpotCrime.com is “hoping to expand” with Sinclair, ensuring that the startup’s crime-mapping widget will be placed on Sinclair-associated news websites.
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