FCC Fines Sinclair Broadcast Group $48Million

The Federal Communications Commission who regulates the television industry has fined the Sinclair Broadcast Group a record $48 million, the largest fine in its history –ever– for deceiving the government.

Sinclair owns and controls 190 television stations across the country, and has ties to the Trump administration. It is one of the nation’s largest players in local television, and had attempted to become even more powerful by taking over Tribune Media.

In 2018, the FCC blocked Sinclair’s $3.9 mbillion bid to buy Tribune saying the company sought to deceive regulators in selling off stations in markets where it would control multiple properties. The buyers were two companies to which Sinclair’s founding family had deep and longstanding ties.

Later that summer, Tribune Media sued Sinclair, while Nexstar made a deal to buy Tribune Media for $4.1 billion.

Sinclair’s path to buy the Tribune television properties initially seemed smooth, thanks in part to friendly relations with the Trump administration. White House adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner had boasted the month before President Trump’s inauguration about a deal the Trump campaign had struck with Sinclair. Its journalists would gain access in exchange for less critical coverage. (The television chain denied the claim.) The chain also mandated that its stations’ newscasts broadcast pro-Trump commentaries.

“Sinclair’s conduct during its attempt to merge with Tribune was completely unacceptable,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement released by the agency on Wednesday afternoon. “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.”

See the story at NPR.