FCC’s Dems Slam Sinclair Consent Decree

Democratic FCC Commissioners Geoffrey Starks and Jessica Rosenworcel condemn the $48 million settlement, saying the agency’s Republican majority ignored the FCC’s own rules and bent the facts to assist Sinclair “with sweeping its past digressions under the rug.”

Democratic FCC Commissioners Geoffrey Starks and Jessica Rosenworcel released statements today blasting the FCC Republican majority’s decision to settle charges against Sinclair for allegedly lying to the FCC about the station group’s effort to acquire Tribune in 2017.

Starks called the $48 million settlement, which covers two other rules infractions, “bad law, bad precedent and bad policy.”

In agreeing to the settlement, said Rosenworcel, the majority ignores the FCC’s own rules and bends facts to assist Sinclair “with sweeping its past digressions under the rug.”

Both commissioners voted against the consent decree that imposed reporting requirements on Sinclair as well as the fine.

The principal charge against Sinclair was that it lied to the FCC — lacked candor, in FCC parlance — in proposing to spin off three stations in Houston, Dallas and Chicago from its proposed merger with Tribune to comply with station ownership limits.

According to Rosenworcel, Sinclair misled the FCC by saying it was not the “real-party-in-interest” in the companies to which it was selling the stations.


“As the FCC has long acknowledged, honesty with the agency is a foundational requirement for a license,” she said. “Full and clear disclosure of all material facts is essential to the efficient administration of the agency’s licensing process.

“Moreover, an inquiry into misrepresentation and lack of candor is inherently an assessment of whether a licensee possesses the requisite character qualification to continue to hold a license.”

According to Rosenworcel, FCC rules prohibit settlements involving a broadcasters’ basic character qualifications. “Yet here the agency addresses material misrepresentations behind closed doors and then summarily dismisses them in a consent decree.

“Doing so is a clear end run around this rule.  Why are we violating our own rules to assist this company with the termination of an investigation?”

Starks said the public deserves a full hearing on Sinclair behavior. “What is clear is that by foregoing a real investigation, we run the risk of sending a message to future applicants that they can get away with almost anything if they can write a big enough check, even without admitting to any wrongdoing.

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

Comments (3)

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tvn-member-3011604 says:

May 22, 2020 at 5:49 pm

Heaven help a broadcaster who is conservative and in Jessica Rosenworcel’s crosshairs. Jessica has a long history of hatred for the broadcast industry, aggravated by any broadcaster who supports a president not named Obama. Thankfully, she and Geoff Starks, a non-entity, are the minority commissioners. Forty eight million is plenty enough settlement for what Sinclair is accused of doing.

Hopeyoumakeit says:

May 22, 2020 at 11:04 pm

Sinclair lied to get the deal approved knowing they were not going to sell two of the biggest billing stations in the group. Sinclair got fined for lying. I would submit that America suffered when the Fairness Doctrine was repealed and i will personally be lobbying Biden to get it reinstated. I also will be lobbying for a return of the repeal of the UHF discount. Policy cannot be based on a myth. 8 old white men should not own 98% of all TV media properties

[email protected] says:

May 25, 2020 at 11:24 pm

Your wrong HopeYouMakeit the fairness doctrine doesn’t need to be reinstated which would be censorship now as there is a whole lot of content out now than in the ’50s, ’60s & ’70s, etc. You just want no conservative voices that is why you want an outdated fairness doctrine to censor groups whom you disagree with. Also the media isn’t controlled by 98% of white men either that is a lie that you can’t back up HopeYouMakeIt.

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