Sinclair Consent Decree Could Be Released in 'Next Few Days'

(Image credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

FCC watchers have been itching to get a look at the consent decree between Sinclair and the FCC resolving multiple investigations, but will have to wait a few days more, according to an FCC spokesperson, who said the FCC is waiting for commissioners to finish their statements before releasing it.

The FCC announced May 6 that Sinclair Broadcast Group had agreed to pay a record $48 million civil penalty to resolve three outstanding FCC investigations. That clears the way for Sinclair station renewals. (Stations in the first wave of license renewals--applications are due June 1--include Sinclair's WJLA-TV Washington.)

"We are still waiting on commissioner statements to release [it]," said the spokesperson. "This seems like a long time because we put out a release ahead of posting, which we normally don't do. But this is not any longer than the usual wait for commissioner statements."

Related: FCC Proposes $13 Million Fine Over Paid Programming

He suggested the decree could be released "within the next few days."

Sinclair is settling investigations into 1) its disclosure of information related to its attempted merger with Tribune, 2) whether it was negotiating retransmission consent in good faith, and 3) its failure to identify sponsors of content it produced for Sinclair and non-Sinclair stations. 

The FCC's Media Bureau had been investigating Sinclair for how it handled the cratered attempt to buy Tribune stations as well as how it handled retransmission consent negotiations.

The Tribune investigation looked like it could be trouble at first, since the FCC's commissioners agreed that it looked like Sinclair had misrepresented the deal and showed a "lack of candor," which goes to the qualifications for holding any FCC licenses, and Sinclair has a bunch of them. 

Sinclair paid a total of $35 million to make that and the retrans investigation go away. 

The other part of the settlement was the $13 million the FCC proposed fining Sinclair over not disclosing paid programming, which was itself the biggest fine for a sponsorship ID violation. Sinclair has agreed to admit it did, indeed, violate those ID rules.

John Eggerton

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.