FCC investigates FCC chairman Pai over potential 'improper coordination' with Sinclair Broadcasting

The inspector general of the Federal Communications Commission is investigating the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, for possibly having worked just a little to closely with far-right media conglomerate Sinclair Broadcasting in its attempt to purchase Tribune Media.

WASHINGTON — Last April, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, led the charge for his agency to approve rules allowing television broadcasters to greatly increase the number of stations they own. A few weeks later, Sinclair Broadcasting announced a blockbuster $3.9 billion deal to buy Tribune Media — a deal those new rules made possible.

By the end of the year, in a previously undisclosed move, the top internal watchdog for the F.C.C. opened an investigation into whether Mr. Pai and his aides had improperly pushed for the rule changes and whether they had timed them to benefit Sinclair, according to Representative Frank Pallone of New Jersey and two congressional aides. […]

A New York Times investigation published

Sinclair’s top lobbyist, a former F.C.C. official, also communicated frequently with former agency colleagues and pushed for the relaxation of media ownership rules. And language the lobbyist used about loosening rules has tracked closely to analysis and language used by Mr. Pai in speeches favoring such changes.

In addition to Pai’s communications with Sinclair, the Democrats asked the IG to look into communications between Pai and the White House, referencing “a report in March 2017 from The New York Post, in which Mr. Trump is said to have met with Sinclair’s executive chairman, David Smith, and discussed F.C.C. rules.”