FCC investigating Ajit Pai over relationship with Sinclair

Javier Stokes
February 17, 2018

David Hunt, the agency's Inspector General, confirmed the investigation to Rep.

"For months I have been trying to get to the bottom of the allegations about Chairman Pai's relationship with Sinclair Broadcasting", Pallone told the "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". Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, who sought the IG investigation.

The FCC's Inspector General late past year agreed to open an investigation into FCC chairman Ajit Pai's handling of the Sinclair Broadcasting-Tribune merger and related media ownership deregulatory decisions.

This story was updated at 10:56 p.m. Any claim that chairman Pai is modifying the rules now to benefit one particular company is completely baseless.

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".

The FCC started working on loosening regulations against media consolidation in the early parts of the Trump administration and Pai's time at the helm. "The Chairman is sticking to his long-held views, and given the strong case for modernizing these rules, it's not surprising that those who disagree with him would prefer to do whatever they can to distract from the merits of his proposals".

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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.

The Sinclair merger has faced opposition from Democrats and even some conservative media outlets.

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

Shortly after one rule change early in Pai's tenure, Sinclair Broadcast Group announced plans to acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion.

The two test satellites are a secondary payload on a launch planned for Saturday, the primary objective of which is to put an imaging satellite into orbit for the Spanish government, according to reports and filings with the FCC.

The Sinclair-Tribune merger is still under review by the FCC and the Department of Justice.

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