Finance

FCC Chairman under investigation for relationship with Sinclair Broadcasting

FCC Chairman under investigation for relationship with Sinclair Broadcasting”

"For months I have been trying to get to the bottom of the allegations about Chairman Pai's relationship with Sinclair Broadcasting", Pallone later said in a tweet. The FCC inspector general's office doesn't always publish its findings, though they can be procured through Freedom of Information Act requests.

The investigation was reported today by The New York Times. "The investigation will also look into whether Pai and his aides improperly coordinated with Sinclair on those rule changes".

"I think it's something that merits investigation", she told the House Energy and Commerce Committee during a hearing last October.

Pallone and Cummings pointed to the timing of decisions that impact Sinclair deals (such as its purchase of Bonten stations) and proposed deals (the Tribune acquisition), and said they wanted some answers.

In the letter, the two representatives said the media ownership rule changes "have raised serious concerns about whether Chairman Pai's actions comply with the FCC's mandate to be independent".

Pai has rolled back a number of decisions of his predecessor, Tom Wheeler, that he opposed and criticized at the time they were approved, including 2014 guidance on how the FCC would treat joint sales agreements and sharing arrangements between noncommonly owned stations; restoring the FCC's UHF discount; and two proposals scheduled for a vote this week (Nov. 16) - potentially eliminating or loosening some media ownership limits, and allowing for the rollout of ATSC 3.0 transmissions.

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If the merger is approved, the conservative broadcaster would be able to air politically biased programming to more than 70 percent of the US population. Even with the relaxed media ownership rules, the combined Sinclair-Tribune will be forced to sell about 10 stations.

"If the merger is approved, the conservative broadcaster would be able to air politically biased programming to more than 70 percent of the U.S. population", Free Press said today.

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"The publicly available evidence suggests a pattern of abuse where Sinclair forces its local stations to air pro-Trump messages in exchange for policy favors from the Trump administration and its FCC chairman", said Free Press senior counsel Jessica Gonzalez.

Most believe the industry regulations were repealed largely to help the Sinclair-Tribune deal go through since they do not serve to benefit the public at all.

But Pai said the FCC review of Sinclair's purchase was by the book and there's nothing new about his push for deregulation since he has always been an advocate of loosening restrictions on media companies' ability to consolidate and buy up competitors.



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