FCC Chair: White House Called About Sinclair-Tribune Deal

HUNT VALLEY, MD - OCTOBER 12: The Sinclair Broadcast building sits in a buisness district in Hunt Valley, Maryland October 12, 2004. Sinclair Broadcast Group, the owner of the largest chain of television stations in the nation, plans to preempt regular programming two weeks before the Nov. 2 election to air a documentary that accuses John Kerry of betraying American prisoners during the Vietnam War.  (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
HUNT VALLEY, MD - OCTOBER 12: A sign for the Sinclair Broadcast building is seen in a buisness district October 12, 2004 in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Sinclair Broadcast Group, the owner of the largest chain of televisi... HUNT VALLEY, MD - OCTOBER 12: A sign for the Sinclair Broadcast building is seen in a buisness district October 12, 2004 in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Sinclair Broadcast Group, the owner of the largest chain of television stations in the nation, plans to preempt regular programming two weeks before the Nov. 2 election to air a documentary that accuses John Kerry of betraying American prisoners during the Vietnam War. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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August 17, 2018 7:08 a.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, an independent agency, said Thursday that a White House official called to talk about a proposed merger between Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. and Tribune Media Co.

Ajit Pai told a Senate panel that Don McGahn, the White House counsel, called for a “status update” on the agency’s action on the deal.

He said McGahn “saw something in the news and wanted to know what our decision was,” but did not express an opinion.

The call came July 16 or 17, Pai said. Pai on July 16 had expressed “serious concerns” about the merger.

A White House official on Thursday confirmed that the call took place, but would not discuss substance of the call.

Tribune scrapped the deal on Aug. 9.

President Donald Trump tweeted that FCC’s “disgraceful” action scuttled what would have been a “much needed” conservative voice among the “fake news” media.

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