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The FCC's $48 Million Fine Against Sinclair Is Far Too Small For Such A Dishonest Broker

The Federal Communications Commission announced Wednesday a $48 million fine against Sinclair Broadcast Group, the conservative broadcast conglomerate that in 2018 failed in its attempt to take ownership of dozens of Tribune Media television stations.

The penalty is part of a consent decree that closes three FCC investigations into the broadcaster, which gave up on its takeover bid after the agency found Sinclair misled it and conducted itself with a "lack of candor" - a violation of FCC rules - in seeking official approval for the deal.

When announcing today's fine, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai suggested that he was defending the First Amendment against "those who, for transparently political reasons, demand that we revoke Sinclair's licenses" - a jab at Free Press and its allies, who forcefully opposed the massive broadcast merger.

Free Press President and Co-CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement:

"Sinclair's long record of lying to and misleading the Federal Communications Commission has caught up with it yet again. We applaud the FCC for taking action - after years of looking the other way and bending the rules to benefit Sinclair - though the penalty should have been much steeper.

"Let's not forget that these are the public airwaves, and Sinclair has no special right to broadcast on them. Sinclair has abused its control of local TV stations from coast to coast, inserting right-wing propaganda into local newscasts and turning local journalists into puppets for its political agenda.

"While we appreciate the FCC's action today, we can't help but notice that Chairman Pai seems all too eager to turn the page and get back to business as usual. In announcing today's fine, Pai went out of his way to sarcastically reassure all of us that the First Amendment still applies at the FCC and that Sinclair's licenses are safe. The First Amendment part is welcome news, as his agency's constitutional commitments seem to waver depending on the day of the week and who's asking.

"Yet this shouldn't be the end of the discussion about Sinclair's bad behavior. We never demanded that the FCC consider action against Sinclair's licenses for any political reason. Sinclair constantly breaks the law, violates the FCC's ownership rules and fails to meet the public-interest obligations that broadcasters agree to uphold in exchange for their use of the public airwaves. And we did so - as even Chairman Pai concedes - because the company routinely lies to the agency."


Previously in Sinclair:
* Item: Former Trump Aide Joins Sinclair.

* Trump's FCC Chair Continues To Shaft The Public, Offer Major Handouts To Big Media.

* Trump-Friendly Sinclair's Takeover Of Tribune TV Stations Brought To You By Trump's FCC Chairman.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Make The Air Fair.

* 'Maybe The Worst FCC I've Ever Seen.'

* A Pair Of Decades-Old Policies May Change The Way Rural America Gets Local News.

* Tribune's Disastrous Sale To Sinclair.

* Lawmakers Demand Answers About FCC's Favoritism Toward Sinclair.

* Can Anyone Stop Trump's FCC From Approving A Conservative Local News Empire?

* Sinclair's Flippant FCC Ruling.

* FCC Presses Sinclair For Answers On Tribune Merger.

* Trump FCC Eliminates Local Broadcast Main Studio Requirement In A Handout To Sinclair That Will Harm Local Communities.

* Trump's FCC Chairman Announces Plan To Scrap Media Ownership Limits Standing In Way Of Tribune-Sinclair Mega-Merger.

* Lisa Madigan et al. vs. Sinclair-Tribune.

* Local TV News Is About To Get Even Worse.

* Trump's Secret Weapon Against A Free Press.

* With Massive Handouts To Sinclair, FCC Clears Path To New Wave Of Media Consolidation.

* Trump FCC Opens Corporate Media Merger Floodgates.

* FCC Wraps New Gift For Sinclair.

* FCC Inspector General Investigating Sinclair Rulings.

* Behind Sinclair's 'Project Baltimore.'

* Don't Be Fooled By Sinclair's Shell Games.

* Free Press Sues The FCC For Dramatic Reversal Of Media Ownership Limits That Pave Way For Media Mergers.

* Thanks, Tribune Media, All You Did Was Weaken A Country.

* Sinclair-Fox Station Deal Enabled By FCC Is Dangerous For Democracy.

* The Sinclair Sham.

* Debunking The Broadcast Industry's Claims About Sinclair's Tribune Takeover.

* Surprise FCC Move Maims Sinclair-Tribune Merger.

* Sinclair Makes Last Ditch Effort To Salvage Tribune Merger. Will FCC Bite?

* Sinclair-Tribune Deal On Life Support.

* Sinclair-Tribune Deal Is Dead.

* Tribune Media Lawsuit: Belligerent Sinclair Blew A Sure Thing.

* Tribune Executives Will Get Bonuses After Sinclair Deal Collapses.

* FCC Investigating Sinclair's Lies In Failed Attempt To Take Over Tribune Media.

* Sinclair, ABC Light AOC On Fire.


See also:

* Sinclair Broadcast Group Solicits Its News Directors For Its Political Fundraising Efforts.

* FCC Plans To Fine Sinclair $13.3 million Over Undisclosed Commercials.

* Sinclair's New Media-Bashing Promos Rankle Local Anchors.

* Sinclair's Latest "Must-Run" Segment Defends Tear-Gassing Refugees.

* Nexstar-Tribune Deal Is Bad News For Communities And Local Media.

* Dear FCC: Further Weakening Media-Ownership Limits Isn't The Answer.

* Free Press To FCC: Revoke Sinclair's Licenses If They Lied To You.

* Sinclair Broadcast Group To Acquire 21 Regional Sports Networks From Disney At A Valuation Of $10.6 Billion.

* Sinclair's Cubs Network Names Complicit GM.

* Sinclair Completes Acquisition Of Regional Sports Networks From Disney.

* Sinclair Rampage Continues: Acquires 20% Interest In YES Network.


Comments welcome.


Posted on May 7, 2020

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