FCC Chairman under investigation for relationship with Sinclair Broadcasting

Feb 17, 2018, 00:09
FCC Chairman under investigation for relationship with Sinclair Broadcasting

The Senate has confirmed Pai, President Donald Trump's nominee to serve as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, despite Democratic complaints that he will undermine net neutrality.

The rule change, approved last November, is seen as paving the way for right-wing Sinclair's proposed $3.9 billion purchase of Tribune Media Company.

"For months I have been trying to get to the bottom of the allegations about Chairman Pai's relationship with Sinclair Broadcasting", said Pallone in a statement to the publication.

By bureaucratic practice, the FCC Inspector General does not confirm or deny potential or ongoing investigations. Somewhat soon after, Sinclair Broadcasting announced the merger with Tribune, leading some distrustful observers to become suspicious of the timing, especially given the purported relationship he has with telecommunications and media companies.

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Pai's critics have noted that he has pushed through a number of deregulatory proposals that appear to clear regulatory obstacles from Sinclair's proposed expansion.

The investigation concerns whether Pai improperly junked the rules to favor Sinclair, Rep.

The consumer group Free Press said that in light of the investigation, Pai should recuse himself from all decisions related to the Sinclair-Tribune deal.

Ajit Pai was opposed to JSA review restrictions when they were retained back in 2014, arguing with some conviction that they helped smaller television stations survive and fund additional content, as well as give minorities a greater opportunity to own television stations. The FCC also recently eliminated the main studio rule, which required broadcasters to maintain a studio in their community of license.

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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 USA population.

Ajit Pai, the controversial chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, is under investigation by the FCC inspector general for his ties to a broadcaster, according to lawmakers.

At the time, an FCC spokesperson called the request part of an effort by Democrats to target Sinclair over its perceived conservative political views, and branded the allegations a baseless attempt to distract from the merits of the deal.

The extent of the investigation is unclear, as is whatever could result.

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Likely if and when Justice signs off on that, or its modification of Sinclair's modification, it will need to be refiled with the FCC and put out for public comment.