Polka Pans Sinclair’s Plan For RSNs


Sinclair Broadcast Group didn’t win many fans after it attempted to merge with Tribune Media through a series of proposed spin-off deals that drew much scorn and scrutiny from inside and outside Washington.

Now, a Pittsburgh-based group is voicing its dissent to a deal that would see Sinclair grab regional sports networks (RSNs) being spun in order for The Walt Disney Co. to complete its purchase of Twenty-First Century Fox.

“ACA Connects opposes Sinclair’s proposed purchase of the Disney-Fox regional sports networks (RSNs) for the same reason it opposed Sinclair’s failed attempt to buy Tribune’s television stations,” said ACA Connects President/CEO Matthew M. Polka. “If approved, the transaction would allow Sinclair to raise prices to millions of consumers, including those served by ACA Connects members.”

ACA Connects is the new shorthand phrase for the small MVPD lobbying group formerly known as the American Cable Association.

Polka continued, “Big 4 broadcast network programming and RSN programming are both critical for ACA Connects members. By jointly negotiating these assets when they serve the same market, Sinclair can raise prices to cable operators for both offerings.“It is one of the reasons that the Federal Communications Commission imposed conditions on the Comcast/NBCU merger and that Sinclair’s proposal to combine Tribune’s network stations with its own ran into severe regulatory trouble, causing Sinclair-Tribune to pull the deal.“And it is why we expect antitrust regulators to reject Sinclair’s proposed acquisition of Fox regional sports networks as well. We look forward to making this case at the appropriate time.”