This is great news. Sinclair Broadcasting hit with hefty, unprecedented fines.
“ATVA applauds the FCC’s decision to fine stations associated with Sinclair nearly $9 million for violating the good faith negotiation rules,” said American Television Alliance Jessica Kendust. “The FCC found that these stations and their agent, Duane Lammers, engaged in conduct that merited the maximum penalty allowed by law. We are pleased that the FCC’s action sent such a strong signal that it will not tolerate broadcasters’ bad-faith conduct, especially when their behavior leads to needless TV blackouts that are harmful to American consumers.”
The FCC has officially imposed the maximum per-violation fine of $512,228 apiece for all but one of the stations it had identified in a September 2020 notice of apparent liability as violating the FCC’s requirement of good faith re-transmission consent negotiations.
The 18 stations had been the target of a complaint by AT&T and its DirecTV DBS service alleging they had unreasonably delayed those negotiations including failing to respond to AT&T proposals.
“We applaud the FCC’s action today imposing the statutory maximum penalty on broadcast stations who deliberately violated the Commission’s good faith negotiation rules, causing lengthy and unnecessary TV blackouts that harmed the public,” said an AT&T spokesperson. “These practices hold U.S. consumers hostage and we are hopeful that today’s ruling sends a strong message to broadcasters to knock off this anti-consumer behavior.”
The FCC back in September 2020 found in favor of AT&T and proposed the fines, totaling more than $10 million. It then denied an appeal by the eight station groups involved — Deerfield Media, GoCom Media, Howard Stirk Holdings, HSH, Mercury Broadcasting, MPS Media, KMTR Television, Second Generation of Iowa and Waitt Broadcasting.