WASHINGTON, May 6 (Reuters) – Sinclair Broadcast Group has agreed to pay a fine of $ 48 million to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to resolve the investigation into the company’s abandoned agreement to purchase Tribune Media in this that the agency said was its biggest civilian punishment.
Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley said on Wednesday that the company was pleased with the resolution.
“Sinclair is committed to continuing to interact constructively with all of its regulators to ensure full compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations,” said Ripley, president of the company.
In June 2019, the FCC revealed that it had opened a new investigation to find out if Sinclair had made false statements or lack of candor in the $ 3.9 billion deal with Tribune. The civil penalty also resolves FCC investigations into whether the company has fulfilled its obligations to negotiate good faith retransmission agreements and its failure to identify the sponsor of the content, the FCC said.
The FCC said that Sinclair, the second largest television station operator, agreed to “adhere to a strict compliance plan.” The penalty is double the previous record for a broadcaster.
“Sinclair’s conduct in its attempt to merge with Tribune was completely unacceptable,” said FCC President Ajit Pai. “Today’s penalty, as well as the failure of the Sinclair / Tribune transaction, should serve as a cautionary tale to other licensees seeking approval of the commission for a transaction in the future. “
Pai rejected FCC suggestions to revoke Sinclair’s licenses.
Tribune ended the sale of 42 television stations in 33 markets to Sinclair, which owns or operates 191 stations, in August 2018. A month earlier, the FCC questioned the Sinclair franchise about the planned sale of certain stations and suggested that Sinclair would effectively keep control over them.
The collapse of the deal, which was backed by President Donald Trump, potentially ended Sinclair’s hopes of building a conservative-style national television station that could have rivaled Fox News from Fox Corp.
Nexstar Media Group Inc. acquired Tribune as part of a $ 4.1 billion deal in September.
The Democrats accused Sinclair of having oblique media coverage in favor of the Republicans. Trump in 2018 criticized the Republican-led FCC for not approving the Tribune deal, saying on Twitter that he “would have been a great and much-needed conservative voice for and of the people.”
In 2017, the FCC said it was fining Sinclair $ 13.38 million after failing to properly disclose that the pay-per-view programming broadcast on local TV stations was sponsored by a cancer institute. This investigation was also resolved as part of the settlement.
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