The President has weighed in on the FCC's decision to designate the Sinclair-Tribune deal for hearing and he was not pleased.
Actually, the President tweeted that the FCC wouldn't approve the deal, which is not exactly the case. It could still approve it, though that is unlikely. What the FCC voted on unanimously is that there were issues with how Sinclair structured and presented the deal that raised questions about whether its spin-offs of stations to comply with ownership rules were legit.
But the President called either that move, or his belief that it necessarily spelled the death knell for the deal, "disgraceful," and took a shot at the NBC/Comcast deal, which the FCC did approve.
Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who had big issues with the deal and voted along with the majority to send it to an FCC judge, retweeted the President with a one-word response: "Disagree."
Sinclair last spring hired Boris former Trump staffer Boris Epshteyn to deliver conservative commentary and the company has contributed overwhelmingly to Republican candidates over the past quarter century, according to OpenSecrets.org. which tracks political contributions, not surprising since Republican's deregulatory philosophy dovetails with Sinclair's goal of expanding its reach and scope to compete with alternative video distributors with fewer regulations.
A year ago August, House Democrats in top FCC oversight positions wrote FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to express their concern that he may have taken a series of deregulatory actions to benefit Sinclair that could show a "pattern" of preferential treatment and may have been inappropriately coordinated with the Trump White House and the company.
And exactly a year ago today (July 25, 2017) Pai told a House Communications Subcommittee hearing audience that no one in the White House or Administration generally had "made any representations" to him about the deal or asked him "to take any particular action or expressed views on the merits..."
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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.