Radio News: Pai against Sinclair deal
Jul 16, 2018 10:50 pm
Ars Technica reports that on July 16 Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai said he's against the Sinclair Broadcast Group's acquisition of Tribune Media Company. The Republican had not previously been in favor much of any regulation of communications companies, so the announcement was a surprise. The FCC recently rolled back broadcast TV station ownership limits, which allows Sinclair to own more stations. "Pai has been repeatedly accused of making regulatory changes that benefit Sinclair; the FCC's inspector general in February agreed to investigate whether Pai has improperly coordinated with Sinclair on rule changes," Ars Technica's Jon Brodkin writes. "The evidence we've received suggests that certain station divestitures that have been proposed to the FCC would allow Sinclair to control those stations in practice, even if not in name, in violation of the law," Pai wrote in a statement July 16. He recommended the merger get reviewed by an administrative law judge. Politico described sending the case to an administrative law judge is, "a lengthy administrative process often viewed as a deal-killer." Sinclair also took a public relations hit nationally a few weeks ago when a video compiling local station anchors being forced to read exactly the same political script went viral. Currently, Pai and FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, are two "no" votes out of four, with one commissioner still being confirmed. Rosenworcel said recently that, "too many of this agency's media policies have been custom-built to support the business plans of Sinclair Broadcasting. With this hearing designation order, the agency will finally take a hard look at its proposed merger with Tribune. This is overdue and favoritism like this needs to end."