Following decades of deregulation measures, local TV station ownership has become increasingly concentrated, reducing the diversity of political viewpoints and the number of unique news stories on the air.
Formerly, FCC rules limited the national audience share a single owner could reach to 35%. In 2003, that ceiling was raised to 45%. According to Pew, in 2004, the top five companies “owned, operated or serviced 179 full-power stations... That number grew to 378 in 2014 and to 443 in 2016.”
In 2017, the FCC reinstated the “UHF discount,” which in effect lets local media companies double their TV station audience reach. A subsequent merger would have given Sinclair Broadcast Group an audience share reach of 72%, but the merger did not go through.
A pending Supreme Court case will determine whether the reinstated UHF discount and other Trump-era media ownership deregulations will stand.