Former Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson endorses Sinclair, Tribune merger

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Kevin Johnson (File/Wikimedia Commons)

Former Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has come out in support of a controversial merger between television broadcasting behemoths Sinclair Broadcasting Group and Tribune Media, saying the business deal would help a “longtime friend” acquire three stations for his minority-owned company.

Johnson endorsed the merger in a May 22 letter sent to the Federal Communications Counsel, the federal agency scrutinizing the deal between the companies.

In his letter, Johnson wrote that the merger would result in a divestiture of three television stations — Seattle’s KUNS-TV (Channel 51, Univision), Oklahoma City’s KAUT (Channel 43) and Salt Lake City’s KMYU (Channel 12) — to Howard Stirk Holdings, a company owned by African-American broadcaster Armstrong Williams.

“Each of these assignments will advance minority…broadcast ownership, enhance diversity, and uniquely serve the public interest,” Johnson wrote in his letter.

Johnson’s letter spoke mostly to the selling of the three stations to Stirk Holdings, though he noted that the sale was contingent upon the overall acquisition of Tribune Media by Sinclair.

“The Sinclair-Tribune merger has created this meaningful and important opportunity to increase minority ownership, as represented in these assignment applications,” Johnson wrote.

Johnson, a former professional basketball player, served as the mayor of Sacramento from December 2008 to December 2016. The local Fox affiliate in Sacramento, KTXL-TV (Channel 40), is currently owned by Tribune Media and is expected to be sold to Fox Television Stations if the deal with Sinclair is given regulatory approval.