Administrative Law Judge Dismisses Sinclair Hearing

Honesty with the Federal Communications Commission is a foundational requirement for a broadcast licensee. Indeed, providing false statements to the FCC has been a basis for license revocation since the inception of the Communications Act in 1934. But the dissolution of the Sinclair/Tribune consolidation is a circumstance that would render a hearing at this time in the context of this proceeding an academic exercise. That is not to say that Sinclair’s alleged misconduct is nullified or excused by the cancellation of its proposed deal with Tribune. Certainly, the behavior of a multiple-station owner before the FCC “may be so fundamental to a licensee’s operation that it is relevant to its qualifications to hold any station license.” That broad inquiry, however, would be more appropriately considered in the context of a future proceeding in which Sinclair is seeking FCC approval, for example, involving an application for a license assignment, transfer, or renewal. At that time, it may be determined that an examination of the misrepresentation and/or lack of candor allegations raised in this proceeding is warranted as part of a more general assessment of Sinclair’s basic character qualifications to be an FCC licensee. Absent a specific transaction or other proceeding to provide context for this unresolved character issue, however, conducting a hearing at this time would not be a prudent use of FCC time and resources. Accordingly, Sinclair’s request to terminate this hearing proceeding is granted.

Administrative Law Judge Dismisses Sinclair Hearing FCC ALJ Drops Sinclair Hearing (B&C)