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FCC Fines TV Sinclair Broadcast Group Group’s $9 million affiliate stations for breach of pleasing faith in retransfer negotiations with AT&T

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced Wednesday fines totaling $9 million on 17 stations — or eight licensees — of the Sinclair Broadcast Group for failing to negotiate a retransmission consent agreement with AT&T in pleasing faith.

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The FCC said the so-called forfeiture order imposed a fine of $512,228 per station per accused for “willful and repeated violations of the Commission’s pleasing faith negotiating standards.” Negotiations go back to 2019. In the case of only one defendant station, which showed a “clear inability to pay,” the proposed forfeiture was reduced to $30,000.

Retransmission consent agreements specify the fees that television stations charge video providers for the rights to transmit or retransmit their signals.

The penalty follows a record $48 million fine that the FCC imposed on Sinclair in May as a civil fine — the largest ever imposed on a radio station in FCC history — for closing three begin government investigations, including her conduct while seeking to take over the company. Tribune Media in 2018.

In the retransmission case, the commission found that stations violated its standards by refusing to negotiate with AT&T and subsidiary DirecTV for retransmission consent, “unreasonably delaying retransmission consent negotiations with respect to respondent stations, and failing to respond to AT&T’s proposals to retransmit stations of the accused.

The MVPD advocacy group the American Television Alliance praised the FCC’s decision. “We are pleased that the FCC’s action sent a powerful signal that it will not tolerate bad faith broadcasters’ behavior, particularly when their behavior leads to an undue television blackout that harms American consumers,” ATVA spokeswoman Jessica Kindst said.

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