United States watchdog to probe chairman's decisions in broadcast deal - Democrat

Galtero Lara
Febrero 15, 2018

The FCC and chairman Ajit Pai last April approved rules to allow broadcasters more latitude in buying stations they own; a few weeks later, Sinclair announced its controversial and disputed decision to buy Tribune Media for $3.9 billion.

The internal watchdog at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened an investigation into whether changes made by the agency a year ago improperly helped to grease the skids for Sinclair's purchase of Tribune, The New York Times reported.

Sinclair has proposed buying 42 Tribune stations in 33 markets in a $US3.9 billion deal that would give the conservative-leaning broadcaster a presence in major markets including NY and Chicago.

"I am particularly concerned about reports that Chairman Pai may have coordinated with Sinclair to time a series of commission actions to benefit the company", he continued.

"For months I have been trying to get to the bottom of the allegations about Chairman Pai's relationship with Sinclair Broadcasting", Democratic Representative Frank Pallone told the Times.

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The inspector general, David Hunt, in a December meeting with congressional staff, confirmed that he was investigating questions lawmakers had raised, said a person who spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the probe are private.

The investigation was reported today by The New York Times. Sinclair owns more TV stations than any other company in the United States. He said Pai's actions on media rules "have been consistent with his long-held reviews".

The inspector general is a nonpartisan position.

The Free Press policy group that opposes media consolidation called for Pai to recuse himself from deliberations on the merger. Rebecca Hanson, a Sinclair spokeswoman, declined to comment.

IG findings aren't necessarily made public as a matter of course, but they are sometimes disclosed to Congress or to the public via Freedom of Information Act requests.

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