We won one against FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai and the odious Sinclair Broadcasting Group he had been carrying water for for months. The merger between Sinclair and Tribune Media is officially called off, with Tribune announcing that it is terminating the agreement. Furthermore, Tribune is suing Sinclair for $1 billion in damages saying that it breached an agreement to make its best effort to secure regulatory approval for the deal.
This follows the surprising unanimous decision by the FCC to send the proposal to an administrative judicial review, a process that the FCC has taken in the past to kill these kinds of deals through long delays and administrative hassles. It was a major departure for Pai in particular, and the Republican members of the FCC. Pai had even been considering a rule change that would grease the skids for the Sinclair take-over and put the broadcaster’s propaganda into 72 percent of the nation’s households.
Sinclair made national headlines earlier this year when CNN exposed the story of how the broadcaster was forcing newsreaders across the country to recite a statement drafted by Sinclair about “fake news” that trashed other media outlets. That story and stories about Pai so obviously putting his thumb on the scale to help Sinclair in this merger created such a backlash among activists that we finally prevailed against him.
It showed he can be beat. Now we just have to figure out how to win back net neutrality.