An investigation by the internal watchdog for the Federal Communications Commission has found no evidence that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai improperly dealt with Sinclair Broadcast Group before its proposed merger with Tribune Media.
Last year, the FCC’s Office of Inspector General opened an investigation into Pai’s dealings with Sinclair before he pushed the agency to loosen rules allowing TV broadcasters to increase the number of stations they own. A few weeks after the FCC adopted those rules in April 2017, Sinclair announced plans for a $3.9 billion buyout of Tribune, which would’ve made it the largest owner of broadcast stations in the US. (The merger ultimately didn’t happen.)
The Inspector General report released Monday found ‘no evidence of impropriety, unscrupulous behavior, favoritism towards Sinclair, or lack of impartiality related to the proposed Sinclair-Tribune Merger.’
As part of the investigation, the Inspector General’s office reviewed conversations between Pai and executives from Sinclair and the Executive Office of the President, as well as written communications between the chairman and FCC staff concerning the merger.
‘Our review did not reveal any improper actions,’ the report reads. ‘When we followed up with both Chairman Pai and [FCC Chief of Staff] Matthew Berry, asking for further details regarding these meetings and calls, we confirmed that belief.’
In a statement, Pai said he’s ‘pleased’ with the conclusion of the Inspector General report.
‘I have called on the FCC for many years to update its outdated media ownership regulations to match the realities of the modern marketplace,’ Pai said in the statement. ‘As I said when this investigation was first announced, the suggestion that I favored any one company was absurd, and today’s report proves that Capitol Hill Democrats’ politically-motivated accusation were entirely baseless.’
You can read the full report below: