Sinclair Broadcast Group’s acquisition of Tribune Media Company has run into a major roadblock at the Federal Communications Commission.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said he won’t approve the Sinclair/Tribune acquisition as it’s currently structured, saying Sinclair’s plans for divested stations would violate the law. Pai is recommending that the merger be reviewed by an administrative law judge, a move that could ultimately kill the deal.
Pai’s decisions came after months of pressure from Democratic lawmakers, consumer advocacy groups, and industry lobby groups. Pai has been repeatedly accused of making regulatory changes that benefit Sinclair; the FCC’s inspector general in February agreed to investigate whether Pai has improperly coordinated with Sinclair on rule changes.