Sinclair Broadcasting exercised illegal control of business partner Glencairn
Ltd., the FCC found Monday after three years of investigating the companies'
Each company was fined $40,000 but escaped tougher sanction sought by civil
rights groups-a government rejection of Sinclair's request to buy 14 stations
from Sullivan Broadcasting.
The commission's three Republicans judged that the companies were liable for
misinterpreting FCC policies, but found they did not intentionally mislead the
agency about compliance.
Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps wanted the FCC to pursue a tougher
sanction and voted to designate the station sales for hearing in front of an
administrative law judge.
Sinclair has repeatedly 'stretched the limits' of FCC ownership rules, he
Several factors contributed to the FCC's finding that Glencairn's president
and former Sinclair employee Edwin Edwards did not exercise control of his
- His incorrect report on the amount of debt Glencairn would assume with the
purchase of several Sullivan stations.
- Purchase rights held by Sinclair for Glencairn stations at prices well
below market rate.
- Glencairn's agreement to sell all but two of its stations to Sinclair as
soon as the FCC relaxed rules restricting ownership of local TV
The companies may appeal the decision at the FCC or ask for a review by a
federal appeals court.
The FCC did block one sale to Sinclair, rejecting the transfer of WFBC-TV
Anderson, S.C., on grounds that the deal would have left fewer remaining
independent stations than the eight necessary to permit a new duopoly.
Companies and representatives of civil rights groups involved in the case did
not return calls for comment by press time.