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Big Brother, the Alt Right, Comes to Seattle

Sinclair Broadcast Group has acquired Tribune Media for approximately $3.9 billion, a deal that will bring more than 200 television stations across the country under one owner. For Seattle, this would mean KOMO TV, channel 4,  as well as KCPQ-Fox, channel 13, under one boss … the far right Sinclair President and CEO Chris Ripley. 

“This is a transformational acquisition for Sinclair that will open up a myriad of opportunities for the companyt. The Tribune stations are highly complementary to Sinclair’s existing footprint and will create a leading nationwide media platform that includes our country’s largest markets.” ,” Sinclair President and CEO Chris Ripley said in a statemen

Sinclair ‘s media empire, with its ties to Breitbart and other  alt right media,  has been one of the principle supporters of Donald Trump.  During the 2016 campaign, news stories and features favorable to Trump were distributed to Sinclair stations on a “must-run” basis.  POLITICO reported that Jared Kushner told business executives the campaign had struck a deal with Sinclair for better media coverage.  The group also recently hired Boris Epshteyn, a White House aide who oversaw Trump’s television surrogate operation, as chief political analyst.

Now it appears that Sinclair has its sights set on Fox News.  With the firing of Bill O’Reilly,  Roger Ailes and now co-president Bill Shine, the alt right media see an opportunity for a more pure conservative (aka neo fascist) challenge to the “mainstream media.” O’Reilly obviously needs a job and even Sean Hannity, the last of Fox’s original opinionated prime time hosts, has a clause in his contract that could allow him to leave the channel early. If Sinclair hoped to pick up some of those Fox expats, their network of  local stations would obviously provide a major platform.  Add in Breitbart, with its White House connections and the threat is all too real. In addition to broadcast channels, once the Tribune deal closes, Sinclair will own WGN America, which is available in about 80 million homes around the country .. not very different from  Fox News’  90 million homes. At the moment WGN America doesn’t dabble in news, instead running re-runs of old shows and some of its own scripted drama programming.

 

The Sinclair-Tribune deal awaits approval by the Federal Communications Commission, which under Trump has signaled a more relaxed attitude toward media ownership rules. Though Sinclair-Tribune may need to divest some stations in certain markets to remain under ownership caps, the deal is largely expected to be approved.


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