FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel called for an investigation into what she said is FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s push for rules changes and polices that seem “custom-built” to benefit the Sinclair Broadcast Group.
Speaking at Wednesday’s oversight hearing before the House Communications Subcommittee, Rosenworcel said she is concerned that the FCC will likely approve Sinclair’s $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media, even though approval will extend Sinclair’s reach to more than 70% of U.S. TV homes.
“I’m also concerned that if you look at the series of media policy decisions that has been made by this commission, they all seem to serve Sinclair broadcasting’s business plan — from reinstating the UHF discount, to changing the 39% rule that was enacted by Congress, to possibly foisting on all of our households a new broadcast standard for which they own many, many patents.
“I think it has reached a point where all of our media policy decisions seem to be custom-built for this one company, and I think it is something that merits investigation.”
In his questioning of Pai, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) expressed displeasure that Pai has not been responsive to his inquiries about Sinclair and suggested that more scrutiny was needed.
“We are going to look into your continued evasiveness of some of these issues, including Sinclair,” he said. “I’m not going to tolerate the agency not responding to us.”