Trump Attacks FCC Over Blocked Sinclair-Tribune Merger

U.S. President Donald Trump attacked the Federal Communications Commission over its decision to block the proposed merger of cable TV giants Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune, taking to Twitter to call the move "disgraceful" and publicly wondering why the "Liberal Fake News [sic] NBC and Comcast" were granted approval to consolidate by the same agency. The head of the state said Sinclair and Tribune combined would have provided the American public with a "much needed [sic] Conservative voice."

During the 2016 presidential election campaign, the then-candidate said his administration would explore the possibility of preventing Comcast and NBC's merger from happening but nothing came out of the claim and it's presently unclear whether Washington acted in any such manner before the two media giants received their tie-up approval. While the President has the power to appoint antitrust officials to the Department of Justice, he doesn't set their agenda, as the DOJ repeatedly pointed out during its trial with AT&T wherein it attempted stopping the Time Warner deal from happening, with the telecom giant accusing the agency of falling under illegal influence from the White House due to President Trump's beef with CNN, a unit of Time Warner's Turner.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was previously being investigated by FCC Inspector General David L. Hunt over activities that made Sinclair and Tribune's merger proposal possible in a manner that was swift to the point of implying foul play but the probe hasn't amounted to anything to date. The FCC technically didn't block the proposed consolidation directly but voted against approving it and referred the attempted tie-up to an administrative law judge who will subject it to a legal process that mergers rarely survive. The telecom regulator wasn't satisfied with the proposed deal and insisted on major divestments on Sinclair's part as the consolidation would have otherwise allowed it to reach three out of four households in America. President Trump's harsh criticism of the FCC's decision marks the first occasion that saw the White House and the federal agency disagree on any major issue, with the highest office in the U.S. previously being supportive of its controversial order that killed net neutrality.

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