(WASHINGTON TIMES) For years, the Federal Communications Commission has allowed TV stations to execute joint operating agreements allowing themselves to outsource tasks such as advertising sales to group owners with more resources.

But when conservative columnist and entrepreneur Armstrong Williams recently purchased two stations, making him one of America’s few black owners of local TV affiliates, the commission unexpectedly decided to use his acquisition as a test case to review the practice.

The actions — coupled with other recent FCC decisions such as a plan to survey newsrooms that alarmed news media before it was withdrawn — have injected questions about whether a commission set up by Congress to be nonpartisan is now acting with a political litmus test under the Obama administration.

 

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