An FCC spokesperson has confirmed the FCC is currently reviewing the complaint filed against Sinclair's WBFF-TV over how it is covering a local story, but signaled that the current acting head of the agency is a First Amendment defender.
Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby's office last week filed a formal complaint with the FCC seeking an investigation of the "broadcast practices and media content" of Sinclair-owned Fox affiliate WBFF-TV Baltimore, specifically its reporting about her office and herself, with Mosby's office alleging the station is intentionally distorting the news in violation of FCC rules. The station stands by its coverage.
In a comment e-mailed to B+C Monday, an FCC spokesman said that the FCC is doing its due diligence on the complaint, as it does with all such complaints.
"The Commission carefully reviews all communications sent to the agency, from formal filings to informal consumer complaints," the spokesperson said, including "the Baltimore State's Attorney General’s recent letter."
"The acting Chairwoman [Jessica Rosenworcel] is clear about her support of the First Amendment and believes freedom of the press is a cornerstone of our democracy," the spokesperson added.
Certainly, Rosenworcel came to the defense of broadcasters when President Donald Trump suggested he could go after NBC over the network's coverage he disliked, tweeting: "With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their license? Bad for country!."
Rosenworcel suggested at the time that what was bad for the country would be government officials threatening broadcasters over their coverage. She had a four-word tweeted response to Trump's suggesting: "Not how it works."
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.