Ajit Pai's Sinclair Connections Now Under FCC Internal Investigation

NATION-NOW     FCC Chair Ajit Pai investigated for Sinclair ties lawmakers say     
       FCC chair under investigation for ties to Sinclair

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai's delivers remarks during a hearing where the FCC took up the issue of net-neutrality, at the FCC on December 14, 2017 in Washington, D.C. On Thursday, lawmakers said Pai was under investigation for his ties to Sinclair Broadcasting.

And the plan this week got a key endorsement from U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai.

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

By year's-end, the Times wrote, Pai and his aides were under investigation for promoting the relaxing of regulations that seemed timed to benefit Sinclair. "The commission should take no action on this mega-merger until the conclusion of the inspector general's investigation".

Before that purchase, Pai pushed for deregulatory moves, including the loosening of local ownership restrictions, that ended up benefiting Sinclair Broadcasting's purchase of the newspaper company. Around the completion of the year, the premiere the interior watchdog for the F.C.C. unseal an investigation if Mr. Pai and his allies had inadequately propelled for the rule alterations and if they had scheduled them to satisfy Sinclair, according to Representative Frank Pallone of New Jersey and two congressional aides. Any claim that chairman Pai is modifying the rules now to benefit one particular company is completely baseless.

But the reason that the FCC had focused on JSAs and insisted on giving them special scrutiny was because Sinclair Broadcasting had used the arrangement for more than two decades to drive small television stations out of business and expand into new markets.

Free Press wants "Pai and any other FCC staff subject to this inquiry [to] recuse themselves from all dealings related to Sinclair's proposed takeover of Tribune Media", González said.

"Chairman Pai has for many years called on the FCC to update its media ownership regulations to match the realities of the modern marketplace", the statement said. "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". The FCC also recently eliminated the main studio rule, which required broadcasters to maintain a studio in their community of license.

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

Reps for Sinclair did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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