News broke today that the FCC's Office of the Inspector General is looking into whether Ajit Pai colluded with Sinclair Broadcast Group to push through the company's takeover of Tribune Media Services.1
Since he took office, Pai has been directing the FCC to dismantle broadcast regulations and clear the way for the Sinclair-Tribune merger—allowing the pro-Trump propaganda machine to reach more than 70% of households in the country.2
But even though he's under investigation, Pai is still involved in decisions around the merger. This is unacceptable. We're demanding that he recuse himself completely from any proceedings regarding Sinclair. Will you join?
Under Pai, the FCC eased rules that prevented a single broadcaster from reaching more than 40% of the country's population—so that after the merger, Sinclair will be able to broadcast to over 70% of the U.S.3
Then, they repealed the Main Studio Rule, which required TV and radio broadcasters to have local studios, so that local news could be run centrally out of Sinclair's corporate headquarters.4
If you're wondering why FCC Chairman Pai is giving preferential treatment to Sinclair, it's simple—the sweetheart deal comes after backroom negotiations with the Trump administration. The agreement looks like a classic quid pro quo: deliver positive coverage of Trump, and in exchange, the administration will deliver 72% of American households' televisions.5
There's a long history of meetings between Sinclair, Pai, and other Trump administration officials. In fact, their relationship is so close that Sinclair chief Christopher Ripley has publicly stated: "Thankfully, we've got Chairman Pai, who's launched an action to look at antiquated rules."6
The news of the IG's investigation into Pai comes after 40,000 MPower Change members signed the petition opposing the Sinclair-Tribune merger and hundreds of us drove calls to Congress asking them to put pressure on the Inspector General. This is a big deal—Pai might finally have to face consequences for his collusion with Sinclair.
If you've been watching the actions of the FCC under Pai, you know that he's made it his mission to give more and more power to giant corporations. Whether it's killing Net Neutrality to favor internet service providers like Verizon, or gutting regulations so that Sinclair can have its merger—it's clear who he's working for (and it ain't us).
The fact that he's involving himself in Sinclair-related decisions despite being under investigation shows that Pai—like too many in this administration—thinks that he's above the law.
Even Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia-Trump investigation after he was caught repeatedly lying to Congress. Pai must do the same while he's being investigated for collusion with Sinclair. Sign the petition here.
1. "F.C.C. Watchdog Looks Into Changes That Benefited Sinclair," The New York Times, Feb 15, 2018
2. "Right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group snubs FCC, gets away with it" Salon, Oct 11, 2017
3. "How Trump's FCC aided Sinclair's expansion" Politico, Aug 6, 2017
4. "FCC Eliminates Rule That Required Stations to Have a Main Studio in Local Coverage Area" Variety, Oct 24, 2017
5. "'Classic Propaganda': Sinclair Broadcasting Pushes Aside Fox News to Become 'Trump TV'" Common Dreams, Jul 30, 2017
6. "How a Conservative TV Giant Is Ridding Itself of Regulation" The New York Times, Aug 14, 2017