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FCC under investigation for giving special favors to Trump TV

Just how far did the FCC go to make a deal happen for the Trump propaganda outlet Sinclair Broadcasting?

By Eric Boehlert - February 16, 2018
Donald Trump

After rewriting public policy at the Federal Communications Commission in order to please a major Trump supporter, the head of the FCC is now under investigation to see if he went even further and actively colluded with the telecommunications giants.

Last year, Trump’s handpicked FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, ushered in a new era of media consolidation when the commission, along party lines, voted to completely disband previous restrictions on the number of television stations one company could own.

The clear winner was Sinclair Broadcasting, or Trump TV.

That’s the bastion of right-wing politics that may soon dominate the local television business in America. Thanks to Pai, Sinclair may soon be allowed to balloon from owning 70-plus stations to more than 200.

Now, the FCC’s inspector general is investigating whether “Mr. Pai and his aides had improperly pushed for the rule changes and whether they had timed them to benefit Sinclair,” the New York Times reports.

This, after it was reported last year that Trump met with Sinclair’s executive chairman, David Smith, and discussed FCC ownership rules.

Since the friendly rule change, Sinclair has made a $3.9 billion bid to acquire the Tribune Company. If completed, the deal would put the company in control of 223 TV stations, a previously unheard of number of outlets for a single television broadcast company to own.

Combined, the stations would give Sinclair access to more than 70 percent of American households. Sinclair would soon pick up major market stations in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

The deal is only possible because of the Trump FCC rewriting ownership rules.

“This agency is organizing all of its media policies around the interests of this one company,” Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic member of the FCC, complained last year.

The proposed Sinclair deal is so expansive and so radical that even some key players within conservative media have raised red flags. Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax and a close Trump ally, slammed the pending merger, insisting that the move “cannot be justified” and that it will “harm” American democracy.

But Sinclair’s a loud Trump ally — it even forces its locally owned stations to air pro-Trump commentaries — so it’s anything goes at the FCC.

Investigators may soon find out just how far Trump’s chairman went.

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