Economy

FCC wants to know if changes Pai pushed aided Sinclair-Tribune merger

FCC wants to know if changes Pai pushed aided Sinclair-Tribune merger

Free Press is among several consumer organizations which have complained that FCC approval would enable Sinclair to air "politically biased programming" to more than 70 percent of the USA population.

The case has also taken on a political dimension thanks to Sinclair's promotion of Republican issues including the controversial use of pre-recorded "must run" news segments that its subsidiaries are ordered to play on local TV stations and which often feature a strongly partisan tone.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is under investigation by the agency's independent watchdog over decisions that benefit Sinclair Broadcasting.

That letter followed an exchange between Pallone and Pai in August and September in which Pallone asked for information about decisions the FCC had made to lift ownership rules but Pai "repeatedly refused to adequately respond to", according to Pallone.

The investigation was reported today by The New York Times. "It was unclear the extent of the inspector general's investigation or when it might conclude, but the inquiry puts a spotlight on Mr. Pai's decisions and whether there had been coordination with the company". David Hunt agreed to conduct the investigation after it was requested in November 2017 by two Democratic lawmakers. "I can not control what comes out of Capitol Hill", he noted. His office also confirmed the investigation. The group suggested the existence of a "quid pro quo" relationship between FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the Trump administration and Sinclair Broadcast Group.

That discount had become irrelevant given the introduction of new digital technologies, but Pai reintroduced it.

More news: A Second Court Blocked Trump's Bid to End DACA

In May, Sinclair Broadcasting acquired Tribune Media for $3.9 billion.

Under Pai's leadersip, the FCC has taken several steps to boost Sinclair's business interests.

FCC Plans To fine Sinclair $13.3 million Over Undisclosed Commercials. These agreements allow television stations to share advertising, giving them economies of scale.

Pai's office declined to comment on the report, but the chairman has denied his deregulatory agenda was meant to benefit any one company.

She noted that Pai has always been a champion of updating its media ownership regulations.

Critics of the deal have argued the FCC revised its rules - which prevented a single company from controlling too many broadcast stations and from controlling more than a single broadcaster in the same market - because of Sinclair's friendly treatment of President Donald Trump.


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