FCC Levies Largest Civil Penalty In History To Conservative Media Company Sinclair Broadcasting

(PatrioticPost.Com)- The Federal Communications Commission has just levied its largest civil penalty in history — $48 million to Sinclair Broadcasting.
On Wednesday, the FCC released a statement saying Sinclair agreed to pay that fine as well as “abide by a strict compliance plan in order to close three open investigations.”
The penalty comes from the failed attempt of Sinclair Broadcasting to merge with Tribune Media back in 2018. The deal, which was originally valued at $3.9 billion, faced scrutiny from Ajit Pai, the FCC commission chair. Eventually, the FCC referred the acquisition proposal to an administrative judge hearing, and also called into question Sinclair’s divestments that were part of the deal, labeling them a “sham.”
That acquisition was ultimately terminated by Tribune Media. Had the deal been completed, Sinclair Broadcasting would have covered a majority of the country. It would have given the company control of a total of 233 TV stations, 42 of which would have come from Tribune. It also would have given it a huge presence in busy markets such as Chicago and New York.
Sinclair Broadcasting is the largest owner of local television stations in the United States.
Pai said:
“Sinclair’s conduct during its attempt to merge with Tribune was completely unacceptable. Today’s penalty, along with the failure of the Sinclair/Tribune transaction, should serve as a cautionary tale to other licensees seeking Commission approval of a transaction in the future.”
The FCC investigation revealed Sinclair was misrepresenting exactly who would end up controlling a group of television stations the company wanted to spin off so as to comply with the Commission’s rules that cap ownership of stations. The company proposed selling some of their stations in Texas to Cunningham Broadcasting Corp.
However, that company was owned by the estate of Carolyn C. Smith, who is the mother of David D. Smith, the executive chairman of Sinclair, as well as his three brothers. Together, they are the controlling shareholders of Sinclair Broadcasting.
In a news release, the FCC said Sinclair Broadcasting admitted that it violated the sponsorship and identification rules of the FCC. The agreement “also closes investigations into whether the company has met its obligations to negotiate re-transmission consent agreements in good faith and its failure to identify the sponsor of content it produced and supplied to both Sinclair and non-Sinclair television stations.”
Some were calling for the complete revocation of Sinclair Broadcasting’s licenses. However, Pai disagreed with those calls, saying they were politically motivated. Sinclair is a conservative media company. As Pai said:
“While they (those calling for revocation) don’t like what they perceive to be the broadcaster’s viewpoints, the First Amendment still applies around here.”
Sinclair Broadcasting also released a statement on Wednesday, saying it “is pleased with the resolution announced today by the FCC and to be moving forward.
“Sinclair is committed to continue to interact constructively with all of its regulators to ensure full compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations.”
The $48 million civil penalty levied on Sinclair was double that of the previous record, a $24 million penalty that Univision paid back in 2007.