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Radio News: FCC fines Sinclair

Jan 17, 2018 10:50 pm
The Communications Law blog reports that the Federal Communications Commission issued a record $13.4 million fine to Sinclair Broadcasting for not adequately disclosing sponsored content in its programming. That's because Sinclair violated FCC rules 1,700 times on its 64 stations. The FCC requires broadcasters to identify anyone who has paid for programming, and Sinclair repeatedly did not. The FCC has been criticized during the past year for going easy on Sinclair, weakening limits on the number of stations a company can own in individual markets, easing the way for the conservative broadcast group to buy Tribune Broadcasting for $3.9 billion. Sinclair currently owns 193 stations including the CBS affiliate and the CW affiliate in Albany, and Tribune owns another 42 broadcast television stations. If that deal goes through, Sinclair would be the largest local TV operator in the country, broadcasting to an estimated 72 percent of all American households. While most polls show local TV news is trusted, Sinclair does not just hide its paid programming, but also its conservative slant on the news. So, while everyone knows when they watch Fox News, they are watching a conservative version of the news, when viewers watch the CBS and CW stations in Albany, they mostly believe they are just watching the local news. But just like this FCC fine indicates, with Sinclair, you don't always know who is behind their programming. In fact, the Democrats on the FCC Commission argued the fine was too small. "The ‘punishment does not fit the crime’ against a company that grossed more than $2.7 billion in revenue last year. [The] meager fine... fails to match the scope and egregious nature of the violations that were committed," Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel wrote in a statement.