Pallone's spokesman confirmed a report in the New York Times, which first reported the FCC inspector general's probe into Pai's actions on rules affecting the proposed deal in which Sinclair Broadcasting, the largest U.S. broadcast television group, is seeking to buy Tribune Media Co.
And last April, two weeks before Sinclair announced their plans to purchase Tribune, the FCC tweaked the UHF discount, allowing one company to reach up to 78 percent of American homes, shattering previous ownership caps.
"For months I have been trying to get to the bottom of the allegations about Chairman Pai's relationship with Sinclair Broadcasting", Pallone said in a statement. The FCC inspector general's office doesn't always publish its findings, though they can be procured through Freedom of Information Act requests.More news: UN Mission: Over 3000 Civilians Killed, 7000 Injured in Afghanistan in 2017
The matter of the inspector general's investigation or when it might end was unclear, but the probe throws a spotlight on Mr. Pai's commitment and if there had been any association with the company. However, it does bring up the question of whether Pai had coordinated with Sinclair, and it could force him to publicly address the topic, which he hasn't really done up to this point.
One month later Sinclair announced it would pay $3.9bn for rival Tribune Media and its 42 television stations dotted across the USA, adding to its 173 existing stations. The deal, which would not have been possible without the change, would push the total number of TV stations Sinclair owns to more than 200 nationwide.
In the letter, the two representatives said the media ownership rule changes "have raised serious concerns about whether Chairman Pai's actions comply with the FCC's mandate to be independent".
David Hunt, the agency's Inspector General, confirmed the investigation to Rep.More news: Kansas City is a finalist to host 2019 or 2020 draft
They're also concerned that Sinclair, which some critics say forced local stations to provide favorable coverage to then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign at the expense of rival Hillary Clinton, has too cozy a relationship with the administration.
Free Press is among several consumer organizations which have complained that FCC approval would enable Sinclair to air "politically biased programming" to more than 70 percent of the United States population. He said Pai's actions on media rules "have been consistent with his long-held reviews".
The Sinclair-Tribune merger is still under review by the FCC and the Department of Justice. The FCC officials told the aides that they would open an investigation, according to four people with knowledge of the meetings.
The aides, all of whom work for Democratic lawmakers, would speak only on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is private.More news: Minnesota Vikings deny Giants of Kevin Stefanski interview
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