Senate Dems call on FCC chair to hold off on media ownership efforts

Senate Dems call on FCC chair to hold off on media ownership efforts
© Greg Nash

A group of Senate Democrats is calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to hold off on any media ownership proceedings, including its review of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s proposed merger with Tribune Media, until it surveys the state of the broadcasting industry.

Twenty-one Democrats and Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSenators pledge action on Saudi journalist’s disappearance Senators concerned as Trump official disputes UN climate change warning Jake Tapper hits Trump over 'Medicare for all' op-ed: ‘It’s only an hourlong show, we can’t get into every lie’ MORE (I-Vt.) signed a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Thursday expressing concern about his record of rolling back restrictions on media consolidation.

“When combined with the troubling trend by some broadcasters of using corporately-developed national news content as a substitute for local journalism, your recent actions risk making the ‘local’ in local broadcasting a thing of the past,” the senators wrote.


Among those who signed the letter were Sens. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonDisasters become big chunk of U.S. deficit Electoral battle for Hispanics intensifies in Florida Democrats hold fading odds of winning Senate this November MORE (Fla.), Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzGOP shrugs off dire study warning of global warming Dems to force health care vote weeks before Nov. midterms This week: Rosenstein set to meet with House GOP MORE (Hawaii) and Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellHillicon Valley: Facebook deletes accounts for political 'spam' | Leaked research shows Google's struggles with online free speech | Trump's praise for North Korea complicates cyber deterrence | Senators want Google memo on privacy bug Congress moves to ensure the greater availability of explosives detecting dogs in the US Overnight Energy — Presented by Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance — Trump ends law enforcement program at wildlife refuges | Pruitt canceled trips he already had tickets for | Senate panel approves new parks fund MORE (Wash.).

The group argued that Pai’s efforts to dismantle regulations limiting the control of media conglomerates like Sinclair is threatening independent journalism and allowing such entities to amass too much influence.

“The FCC — under your leadership — has engaged in a systematic process of eliminating many of the individual rules designed to further this public interest obligation and keep broadcasters tied to their local community,” they wrote to Pai.

Democrats have called for Pai’s recusal from the Sinclair proceeding after it was revealed earlier this year that the FCC inspector general had opened an investigation into the propriety of his deregulation spree and whether it was designed to benefit Sinclair.

A spokeswoman for Pai declined to comment but the chairman has denied those accusations.