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FCC chair: White House called about Sinclair-Tribune deal

UPDATED: Thu., Aug. 16, 2018

This Oct. 12, 2004 photo shows Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.’s headquarters in Hunt Valley, Md. (STEVE RUARK / Associated Press)
This Oct. 12, 2004 photo shows Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.’s headquarters in Hunt Valley, Md. (STEVE RUARK / Associated Press)
Associated Press

WASHINGTON – 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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