E&C Democrats to Pai: Answer Our Questions on Sinclair
Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Committee Democratic leaders wrote to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai today requesting answers to a series of questions that he failed to address in his response to the lawmakers’ August 14th inquiry regarding Sinclair Broadcast Group. The letters focus on reports that Pai’s actions suggest preferential treatment towards Sinclair, and whether his interactions with the Trump Campaign, Administration, and Sinclair demonstrated inappropriate coordination.
The follow-up letter, signed by Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Mike Doyle (D-PA), expresses the lawmakers’ concern that Chairman Pai failed to provide the requested correspondence between his office and Sinclair representatives. Additionally, the lawmakers still have questions about the timing of the reinstatement of the UHF discount rule and the review of the proposed merger between Sinclair and Tribune Media Company, as well as about the adequacy of the initial public comment periods for the proposed merger.
“We received your September 8, 2017 letter, and we appreciate the efforts of Commission staff to collect the information included in your response, but the narrative you provided failed to respond to several of our specific questions and raised additional questions,” wrote Pallone, DeGette, and Doyle. “Your failure to provide the requested correspondence between your office and Sinclair representatives is most troubling. We reiterate our request that you provide all correspondence between you and members of your office and representatives of Sinclair, including any lobbyists and lawyers representing Sinclair, since November 8, 2016, regardless of whether it is subject to a FOIA request.”
In his response to the August 14 letter, Pai said that he was only providing the information requested by the members that had been produced to date in response to FOIA requests. The Committee leaders wrote that the Freedom of Information Act is specific in its instructions that FOIA cannot be used to withhold information from Congress. FOIA cannot be used as an excuse to limit or fail to provide the requested documents.
The lawmakers are asking Chairman Pai to provide additional answers by October 12 on questions relating to:
- Meetings and correspondence with Sinclair
- The proposed Sinclair-Tribune merger
- Processing guidance on license transfer applications
- And other potential FCC proceedings
Full text of the letter can be found here.