The leader of the FCC installed by Donald Trump exploited a loophole to give a pro-Trump propaganda outlet access to millions of American homes they were banned from under Obama.
Sinclair Broadcast Group, the network of local TV stations that has operated as a pro-Donald Trump propaganda system, had a major expansion of its power enabled by the Trump administration’s stooges at the Federal Communications Commission.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican appointed by Trump, used a loophole called the “UHF discount” to let Sinclair increase its portfolio of over 170 stations with 42 stations from Tribune Media. Many of the new stations, which will now be forced to air the “must-run” pro-Trump propaganda segments other Sinclair stations now broadcast, are located in major cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
Before the Trump assist, Sinclair was not in as many large cities, with the power to target millions more Americans in states that didn’t vote for Trump in 2016.
Politico reports that “the Tribune deal would not have been viable if not for Pai’s intervention.” Without the use of the loophole, Sinclair would be constrained to the congressionally mandated cap of 39 percent reach for local station owners. In exchange for backing Trump during the campaign, Sinclair now has access to 72 percent of U.S. households for its propaganda broadcasts.
Former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler slammed the move, noting, “There was funny math created to allow the count to come up to still be below 39 percent, wink wink.”
The loophole had been closed during the Obama administration, but was revived by Pai and the other Republican members of the FCC, who after the election, have the numbers to impose rules changes.
Politico reports that the deal is also getting the rubber stamp from Trump’s allies on Capitol Hill, noting, “there’s little indication Republican leadership in Congress intends to apply much scrutiny to the Tribune deal.” They go on to note that Sinclair “has a long history of donating to GOP candidates over the years.”
The loophole is based on rules from decades ago in which stations with low-powered UHF signals were not counted in the same manner as stations on VHF. The problem is, that in the modern world, stations on both bands appear with the same power on digital broadcasts. Sinclair got a sweetheart deal from Trump, based on rules about quality standards that no longer exist.
It is just another example of Trump not only failing to “drain the swamp,” but of him living and thriving as a creature of the swamp when it can be used to pump up his legendarily outsized ego.
Now, through this pro-Trump propaganda he enabled, millions of Americans will be misinformed and subjected to the lies and deceit Sinclair uses in its digital outlet, Circa. The net result is fewer Americans knowing more about the issues they need to know — the perfect territory for the growth of Trump’s power.