FCC's Clyburn says Sinclair-Bonten deal approved without her knowing

From left to right: Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Michael O'Rielly. (FCC)

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn got in a quick jab at Chairman Ajit Pai after Sinclair’s $240 million deal to buy Bonten Media’s TV stations was approved before the holiday weekend.

In a tweet, Clyburn said the approval was news to her.

“ICYMI, I did. @FCC approves Sinclair-Bonten deal without informing my office. Learned through news clips. Where's the #transparency?” Clyburn asked.


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But the FCC said the approval process was not designed to keep Clyburn or any other FCC officials in the dark.

“The FCC followed its standard procedures for approving unopposed broadcast station transfers. When Commissioner Clyburn ‎was Chairwoman, she did not inform then-Commissioner Pai when unopposed station transfer requests were approved, so her complaint rings quite hollow,” an FCC spokesperson said.

Last Friday, the FCC issued a public notice (PDF) saying it was granting the sale of 7 full-power TV stations from Bonten Media to Sinclair Television Group. In addition, the FCC granted Sinclair continued authority to operate station KCFW-TV (KCFW), Kalispell, Montana, as a satellite of KECI-TV (KECI), Missoula, Montana.

RELATED: Sinclair buys Bonten's 14 TV stations for $240M

Sinclair announced the transaction in April.

"We look forward to welcoming the Bonten employees into the Sinclair family and are pleased to be growing our regional presence in several states where we already operate," said Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley in a statement. "We believe our economies of scale help us bring improvements to small market stations, including investments in news, other quality local programming, and multicast opportunities with our emerging networks of Comet, Charge! and TBD."

For Sinclair, the Bonten deal concludes as the company is pursuing a much larger merger with Tribune Media. Sinclair is paying $3.9 billion for Tribune’s 42 TV stations and its cable networks including WGN America.

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