Sinclair Broadcasting / Photo by William Thomas Cain, Getty Images
By David Uberti / 12.22.2017
Local TV news is far more influential than its lame presentation would lead you to believe. And with 173 stations across the country, the conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group already dominates the landscape. Its proposed purchase of Tribune Media’s 42 local stations would allow it to grow even bigger, putting its must-run segments with terrorism alarmists and Trump sycophant Boris Ephsteyn into the country’s top three media markets and nearly three-quarters of U.S. households.
Sinclair only needs to get the Trump administration’s approval of the merger, which is nearing completion. So in a fit of holiday cheer, the broadcaster announced Friday that it would award about 9,000 full-time and part-time employees, excluding senior executives, with $1,000 holiday bonuses. This cash, Sinclair brass made sure to note in a press release and a memo to staff, was “a result of tax reform.”
“We are grateful to our President and legislature for passing the landmark Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and are excited about the benefits it will provide for our country’s economy, our Company, and our employees,” Sinclair President and CEO Chris Ripley said in the statement.
Trump has previously suggested that he is willing to favor mergers by political allies, and his administration has provided a confusing range of responses to proposed deals between 21st Century Fox and Disney and AT&T and Time Warner, which owns CNN. Earlier this week, AT&T similarly credited the GOP’s tax cut-bill as the reason behind the company’s holiday bonuses—even if they may have also been a result of union pressure.
At Sinclair, the impetus to get the deal finalized may be even greater given that Rupert Murdoch has slimmed down his holdings to focus on live TV and news. He has signaled an intention to bring more stations under the Fox umbrella, potentially challenging Sinclair as a conservative voice in local markets across the country.