Two high-ranking Democrat representatives are urging a probe into the relationship between Ajit Pai and the Sinclair Broadcast Group, as the FCC chairman is advocating the rollback of rules and policies that jam up the television group owner. In a letter sent to the FCC Inspector General by Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the authors point out that Mr. Pai declined to answer questions about the chairman’s changes—relaxation of shared services agreement oversight, reinstating the so-called “UHF Discount,” eliminating the Main Studio Rule, and changing ownership caps—that have directly benefitted Sinclair as it has acquired other groups.
Broadcasters support the chairman.
In response to the accusations of bias, NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith said, “The actions proposed by Chairman Pai and supported by the NAB and scores of broadcasters have industry-wide implications with a profound impact that is broader than any one company. For decades, the broadcast industry has asked the FCC to modernize its media ownership rules, and NAB itself petitioned the FCC to allow broadcasters to innovate and voluntarily employ a Next Gen TV standard, advocated for the elimination of the main studio rule and urged a holistic approach to the UHF discount. We appreciate that Chairman PAI has looked at facts over politics and consistently supported updates to both radio and TV broadcasting regulations since he first became a Commissioner in 2012.”