Sinclair agrees to pay record-setting $48 million FCC civil penalty

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBGI.O) has agreed to pay a $48 million wonderful to the Federal Communications Fee (FCC) resolving the probe into the corporate’s deserted deal to purchase Tribune Media in what the company stated was its largest-ever civil penalty.

FILE PHOTO: The Federal Communications Fee (FCC) emblem is seen in Washington February 26, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photograph

Sinclair Chief Government Chris Ripley stated in an announcement on Wednesday the corporate was happy with the decision.

“Sinclair is dedicated to proceed to work together constructively with all of its regulators to make sure full compliance with relevant legal guidelines, guidelines and rules,” stated Ripley, who’s the corporate’s president.

In June 2019, the FCC disclosed it had opened a brand new investigation into whether or not Sinclair engaged in misrepresentations or an absence of candor within the $3.9 billion Tribune deal. The civil penalty additionally resolves FCC investigations into whether or not the corporate met its obligations to barter retransmission consent agreements in good religion and its failure to establish the sponsor of content material, the FCC stated.

The FCC stated Sinclair, the second-largest tv station operator, has agreed to “abide by a strict compliance plan.” The penalty is twice the prior file for a broadcaster.

“Sinclair’s conduct throughout its try and merge with Tribune was utterly unacceptable,” stated FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “Right this moment’s penalty, together with the failure of the Sinclair/Tribune transaction, ought to function a cautionary story to different licensees searching for fee approval of a transaction sooner or later.”

Pai rejected options the FCC revoke Sinclair’s licenses.

Tribune terminated the sale of 42 TV stations in 33 markets to Sinclair, which owns or operates 191 stations, in August 2018. A month earlier the FCC questioned Sinclair’s candor over the deliberate sale of some stations and instructed Sinclair would successfully retain management over them.

The collapse of the deal, which was backed by U.S. President Donald Trump, probably ended Sinclair’s hopes of constructing a nationwide conservative-leaning TV powerhouse which may have rivaled (FOXA.O) Fox Corp’s Fox Information.

Nexstar Media Group Inc (NXST.O) acquired Tribune in a $4.1 billion deal in September.

Democrats accused Sinclair of slanting information protection in favor of Republicans. Trump in 2018 criticized the Republican-led FCC for not approving the Tribune deal, saying on Twitter it “would have been an important and far wanted Conservative voice for and of the Individuals.”

In 2017, the FCC stated it was fining Sinclair $13.38 million after it didn’t correctly disclose that paid programming that aired on native TV stations was sponsored by a most cancers institute. That probe was additionally resolved as a part of the settlement.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Enhancing by Sandra Maler and Diane Craft

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