September 1, 2020
For Immediate Release
SEC, FCC Documents Prove Sinclair Runs Illegal Shell Game
Petition to Deny Sinclair Licenses to Broadcast Filed at FCC Today
WASHINGTON DC – A legal “Petition to Deny” the broadcast licenses of Sinclair Broadcasting’s Baltimore TV station WBFF, Cunningham Broadcasting station WNUV and Deerfield Media WUTB was filed this morning with the Federal Communications Commission.
Broadcast ownership rules say one TV company may reach just
39% of viewers in the United States, and in a single market, may apply to own
two stations – if there are still eight TV "voices" in that market. There are eight stations in Baltimore, and this petition reveals that WBFF, WNUV, and WUTB all
are actually owned by Sinclair. (October 2, 2020 update: The Supreme Court granted cert to a case involving the eight voices rule.)
The petition is supported by numerous documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission which show:
- The principals of Sinclair’s front companies have no power to control the programming, staff or operations of the television stations, which, on paper, they own and supposedly control.
- The principals of Cunningham and Deerfield are Sinclair insiders and have no stake or risk in the business. They are effectively employees who serve at the whim of Sinclair.
- Sinclair owns all or almost all of the assets of the stations, but for the licenses; guarantees or assumes all of their indebtedness; approves every transaction, expenditure and policy decision.
- All three entities use the same law firms, apparently without conflict, for their inter-company agreements and regulatory matters.
- Sinclair owns options to purchase its shell companies’ stations/licenses for a fixed price that is a small fraction of market value, with option periods as long as 45 years.
“Sinclair told the FCC one thing and told the SEC something else, so the FCC must set this matter for a public hearing. The rules are the rules, and if Sinclair is violating the rules by controlling more TV stations than it is legally entitled to do, the FCC must put a stop to it,” says petitioning attorney Arthur Belendiuk.
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