Report: FCC to fine Sinclair $13.3 million over undisclosed commercials

Report: FCC to fine Sinclair $13.3 million over undisclosed commercials
© Greg Nash

The Federal Communications Commission has approved a $13.3 million fine for Sinclair Broadcasting Corp. after it failed to disclose that a cancer institute sponsored paid programming on local television stations.

The FCC approved the proposed fine earlier this week, but it has not yet been made public, according to Reuters. It covers about 1,700 spots and represents an average penalty of about $7,700 for each one.

The spots include ads for the Huntsman Cancer Institute made to look like news segments that aired during newscasts. Sinclair has previously said that it did not intend to commit the violations.

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The broadcasting giant will be given the chance to respond to the penalty before it is finalized.

Sinclair owns 173 television stations across the country and is the largest TV station operator in the U.S. The company has proposed a $3.9 billion merger with Tribune Media Co.

The FCC and the Justice Department are reviewing the proposed merger. If it were to go through, it would allow Sinclair to reach some 72 percent of U.S. households, according to Reuters.

Last month, two House Democrats wrote to the FCC inspector general requesting an investigation into whether FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has rolled back regulations to benefit Sinclair.

Pai has denied allegations that he is biased in favor of Sinclair.