Demand Progress Seeks Investigation of FCC's Sinclair Deal Vetting

Consolidation critic Demand Progress wants the FCC's Inspector General to investigate the FCC's clock stoppage on the Sinclair-Tribune deal.

The informal 180-day shot clock on the deal was "paused" Jan. 11.

In a letter to Sinclair explaining why it had paused the informal 180-day shot clock on the merger, Michele Carey, chief of the Media Bureau, cited Sinclair's Jan. 4 ex parte note to the FCC that it was evaluating divestitures and other amendments to the deal based on changes in the FCC's media ownership rules, as well as the impact of the DOJ review on possible divestiture choices.

The FCC and DOJ generally coordinate their deal reviews.

Related: O'Riely Says Media Ownership Reg Moves Not Motivated By Tribune

Demand Progress saw that as a pause that refreshed the deal's chances of success and thus the chairman's thumb on the scale, "giving time for Sinclair to sell off some stations to get it approved," adding: "It's clear Chairman Pai is rolling out the red carpet for Sinclair, without regard to whether or not this merger is good for the public interest."

Related: Knives Are Out for Sinclair-Tribune Deal

Demand Progress says that is just the latest in a string of FCC favors for Sinclair, and launched a petition to get backers for the investigation. At press time, it claimed over 63,000 toward an original goal of 50,000.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.