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Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai said Monday he had "serious concerns" about the purchase of Tribune Media-owned TV stations by Sinclair Broadcast Group. He said he was moving to refer the case to an administrative law judge to vet outstanding issues with the deal.

Why it matters: This is a potentially lethal obstacle for a deal that proved controversial because it would increase the reach of the conservative Sinclair network. Pai is a Republican appointee, and the Justice Department has also been looking at the deal.

What he's saying: "The evidence we’ve received suggests that certain station divestitures that have been proposed to the FCC would allow Sinclair to control those stations in practice, even if not in name, in violation of the law," Pai said. "When the FCC confronts disputed issues like these, the Communications Act does not allow it to approve a transaction."

Key context: Critics of various ideological stripes raised concerns about the way Sinclair could stay involved with some of the stations it planned to sell to get the deal approved.

Opponents of the deal praised the FCC's move. "Today’s announcement is welcome," said Democratic commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. "With this hearing designation order, the agency will finally take a hard look at [Sinclair's] proposed merger with Tribune. This is overdue and favoritism like this needs to end."

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Photo: OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images

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Details: Demonstrations began in the eastern regions of Russia and spread west to more than 60 cities.

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Combination images of Cindy McCain and Gov. Doug Ducey. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic for U.S.VETS/Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Arizona Republican Party members voted on Saturday to censure prominent GOP figures Cindy McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey and former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who've all faced clashes with former President Trump.

Why it matters: Although the resolution is symbolic, this move plus the re-election of the Trump-endorsed Kelli Ward as state GOP chair shows the strong hold the former president has on the party in Arizona, despite President Biden winning the state in the 2020 election.

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