Monday was a busy news day, to say the least, thanks to Donald Trump. But, because Trump got so much media attention, a potentially huge new development was not widely reported. This new development could have an enormous impact on politics in America for years to come.
POLITICO reported yesterday:
“FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced Monday he has “serious concerns” about Sinclair Broadcast Group’s acquisition of Tribune Media, saying he would send the transaction through a lengthy administrative process often viewed as a deal-killer.”
— POLITICO (@politico) July 16, 2018
This is a big deal because conservative-leaning Sinclair is already the largest U.S. TV station owner, and if they also acquired 42 Tribune stations in key markets like New York and Chicago it would mean that their right-wing propaganda would be spread throughout the entire country.
The FCC regulatory review has gone on for over a year which is an indication that the initial proposed deal had problems. Over the past year Sinclair has had to make changes to the proposal to satisfy FCC concerns.
But apparently those changes weren’t enough.
“Based on a thorough review of the record, I have serious concerns about the Sinclair/Tribune transaction,” the FCC chairman said in a formal statement. “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.”
On Monday Pai announced an administrative law judge would review the station spinoff issues which are causing the concern. Historically, the FCC sends proposed mergers and acquisitions to this judge when they have not been persuaded that the transaction would be in the public interest.
The FCC’s decision is a surprising setback for Sinclair since Pai was a Trump appointee and was expected to rubber stamp the deal for Sinclair because of their well-known support for the president.
Sinclair has been a target for media watchdogs as well as Democrats and liberal groups due to reports that it is biased in favor of President Donald Trump and right-wing politics. It also requires that all of its 172 stations put on the air the same “must-run” segments which are prepared by conservatives in its corporate headquarters.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.