Sinclair Broadcasting Group's evil plot for World Media Domination has hit a snag. The heroism in this scenario comes from an unlikely source: an actual trump appointee!
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has expressed serious concern about Sinclair's bid to acquire Tribune Media. If the deal went through, Sinclair's Orange-Tinted Sludge could ooze from televisions into 75% of American households.
Sinclair promised to sell off some of it's stations, in an attempt to appear as if it was giving up some of it's control of the market. The proposed new owners of the sold-off stations, though, are close Sinclair associates who would essentially be beholden to Sinclair and still controlled by them. (Almost just like iif a president promised to divest himself of his companies, but instead of doing that he just put his kids in charge of the companies so that he still basically was in charge and got the profits. But, I digress...) Anyhow, Pai wasn't buying it, and proposed an administrative review that effectively kills the deal.
The FCC's decision is a significant blow for Sinclair, which has been a frequent target for Democrats and liberal groups disturbed by reports that it favors President Donald Trump in its coverage via "must-run" segments pumped to its network of stations.
It’s also a surprising turn of events for Pai, who was nominated for the agency's top post by Trump. The chairman had earlier revived a regulatory loophole known as the UHF discount seen as critical to the Sinclair deal. It permits broadcasters to count only half the reach of some stations when calculating their national reach — and allowed Sinclair to avoid vastly exceeding federal limits on media ownership with the deal.
Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley, in a sign of the company's confidence after announcing the Tribune transition, said his company was optimistic on regulatory approval because of Pai’s leadership.
But on Monday, it was a different story, as Pai announced an administrative law judge would review the station spinoff issues. The FCC takes that step when companies fail to persuade it that a transaction, even with conditions, would be in the public interest.
As unlikely as it is to find a trump appointee behaving in a principled way, in this case we will take it. Now, about that Net Neutrality, Chairman...