Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Will anyone “come to save the day” for WGN radio/TV takeover by Sinclair?

Learning that the FCC (is that the Federal Cookie Company?) is expressing reservations about allowing suburban Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcast Group to take over the WGN-TV and radio properties in Chicago as part of a nationwide expansion doesn’t quite ease my own concerns.
Will Trump allow them to intervene?

For I can’t help but think this is merely some rhetoric meant to make it appear as though federal regulators of the public airwaves are actually doing something when in reality they’re inclined to do as little as possible to interfere with the deal that would make Sinclair the largest collection of broadcast properties in the United States.

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION head Ajit Pai issued a statement implying his entity is not prepared to put the rubber stamp to the deal that would give Sinclair control of some 230 broadcast properties – including those founded by Tribune Company that have long thought of themselves as “Chicago’s Very Own.”

Yet I can’t get around the concept that Pai got the FCC post through appointment by President Donald Trump. He’s a political appointee, and the idea of putting all these broadcast properties under single control of a company with a history of believing their ideologue ways are what’s proper would be the kind of thing Trump would approve of.

So is Pai serious in suggesting Monday that an administrative law judge conduct hearings into the deal? I suppose if we learn through Trump’s Twitter rants that Pai has been dismissed for gross incompetence, then it means Pai meant what he said.
Soon to be history?

Otherwise, I suspect it’s a form of rhetoric that merely delays the inevitable, which in the case of Chicago and WGN television and radio means they’re not really locally-run broadcast properties any longer.

THE DAYS OF thinking that Channel 9 and 720-AM were somehow places on the broadcast spectrum that carried the unique perspective of the Second City are no more.

I suspect it’s just a matter of time before the Chicago stations are forced to air as part of the “local” newscasts the commentaries produced out of the corporate offices in Maryland.

The ones that have given Sinclair its reputation within the world of news broadcasting as being ideologically tainted.
The new wave?

My guess is that the first will be on an issue in which Trump wants to get on his high horse and rant and rage about how erroneous Chicago is. Sinclair would probably want to use their new Chicago stations (currently, the closest to Chicago they have to a broadcast property is the ABC affiliate in Springfield, Ill.) to tell Chicago viewers how wrong they are!

WHICH MAKES ME wonder if the character is destined to change so drastically that the properties are ruined. Similar to how back in 1984, the Chicago Sun-Times was bought by Rupert Murdoch’s media entity and the character was altered so drastically that circulation and the paper’s image plummeted – in ways that make some people think Rupert still has a hand.

Even though in reality, he sold the newspaper within two years (so he could buy WFLD-TV in Chicago).
What would Garfield Goose think of new employer?

That deal was because of federal laws controlling just how many properties one can have in a single market, similar to the ones limiting the overall number. Which is why Sinclair is supposedly working out side deals to “sell off” some of the stations they’re about to buy.

One of those is the WGN properties. The Chicago Tribune reported that Atlantic Automotive Corp. of Towson, Md., will buy the Chicago stations.

THEN, THEY WOULD work out an agreement by which Sinclair would handle the actual work of programming and maintaining the stations for them. Because, after all, what would an out-of-state car dealership know about Chicago or broadcasting?

These are the very issues Pai hinted cause the FCC to have reservations. But is the FCC really capable of thwarting a deal if the entity being “harmed” is the one that Trump persists in calling the “enemy of the people?”

Although one often suspects even Trump doesn’t fully believe the nonsense he spews whenever he speaks or Tweets like a twit.
What we’re likely to have occur? Something along the lines of that old Andy Kaufman bit where he lip-synch’s the portion of the “Mighty Mouse” cartoon theme about “Here I come to save the day!” while otherwise standing around doing nothing.


No comments: