Commissioner slams FCC for aiding conservative media giant Sinclair Broadcast

FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel slammed her own agency on Tuesday for catering its rules to the agenda of Sinclair Broadcast Group, a telecom company whose nearly 200 stations typically run favorable content on President Donald Trump.

“As I have said before, there is a troubling pattern at the @FCC. The agency’s big media policy decisions all seem custom-built for the business plan of Sinclair Broadcasting. This is not right,” Rosenworcel tweeted.

Rosenworcel said she sees a “troubling pattern” at the FCC in which its policy decisions are built around the demands of Sinclair Broadcast. Her concerns were posted to Twitter as a response to Trump advocating for the conservative company while striking down its more liberal rivals.

“The Fake News Networks, those that knowingly have a sick and biased AGENDA, are worried about the competition and quality of Sinclair Broadcast,” Trump wrote. “The “Fakers” at CNN, NBC, ABC & CBS have done so much dishonest reporting that they should only be allowed to get awards for fiction!”

Sinclair announced last year it would purchase another major broadcast company, Tribune Media, for $3.9 billion. If the sale goes through, Sinclair would add 42 more stations in major markets to its collection and reach more than 70 percent of U.S. households. No other broadcast company has anywhere near the same reach at the local news level.

Consumer rights group and democratic politicians disapprove of the acquisition, claiming it would disrupt the balance of where people get their news and limit the diversity of viewpoints. Their criticisms were amplified when Deadspin released a viral video showing dozens of local anchors from Sinclair reciting the same pre-packaged script about “biased and false news.”

Current FCC regulation prevents single firms from owning stations reaching 39 percent of the nation’s TV households. But last summer the FCC reinstated a regulatory loophole called the UHF discount that lets media companies count around half of their coverage reach.

Rosenworcel’s fellow Democratic commissioner Mignon Clyburn called the decision to relax ownership rules for Sinclair “deeply flawed” and that it “is really about helping large media companies grow even larger.”

Sinclair is now looking to divest stations in order to comply with FCC and Justice Department regulations. According to a Variety report, conservative media powerhouse 21st Century Fox is in talks with Sinclair to offload some of Tribune’s stations in Denver and Seattle.

H/T Common Dreams

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy is a former technology staff writer at the Daily Dot. He's an expert on smartphones, social media trends, and gadgets. He previously reported on IoT and telecom for RCR Wireless News and contributed to NewBay Media magazine. He now writes for Laptop magazine.