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Media Contact: 
Will Wiquist, (202) 418-0509
For Immediate Release
Paid Programming Must Include Proper Disclosures When Broadcast
WASHINGTON, December 21, 2017 – The Federal Communications Commission today 
proposed a $13,376,200 fine against Sinclair Broadcast Group for apparently failing to make 
required disclosures in connection with programming sponsored by a third party.  The 
programming was broadcast more than 1,700 times, either as stories resembling independently 
generated news coverage that aired during the local news, or as longer-form stories aired as 30-
minute television programs.  This is the largest fine that the Commission has ever proposed for 
a violation of its sponsorship identification rules.    
The FCC’s sponsorship identification rules help ensure that consumers know who is trying to 
persuade them through paid programming.  When a broadcaster fails to disclose the sponsor of 
paid programming, it may mislead the public into believing the paid broadcast material is the 
station’s own independently generated news coverage or editorial content, rather than a 
commercial announcement.  Sponsorship identification is also important because it promotes 
fair and equitable competition among sponsors.
In April 2016, the Commission received an anonymous complaint alleging Sinclair had aired 
paid programming about the Huntsman Cancer Institute during news programs but failed to 
disclose that the Huntsman Cancer Foundation paid for the stories to air.  The FCC’s 
Enforcement Bureau opened an investigation and found that Sinclair and the Foundation had 
entered into an agreement under which Sinclair produced and supplied programming to both 
Sinclair and non-Sinclair television stations.  This programming promoted the Foundation and 
the Institute and included 60- to 90-second sponsored stories made to look like independently 
generated news coverage and 30-minute paid television programs.  
When broadcast licensees are paid or promised money or other valuable consideration to air 
specific programming, the Communications Act and FCC rules require them to air an 
announcement stating the program was paid for and the name of the individual or entity who 
paid for the program.  Further, entities like Sinclair that supply paid programming to other 
broadcasters must inform them that the programming is sponsored.  Today, the Commission 
finds that Sinclair apparently failed to make these announcements to its viewers or report to 
non-Sinclair stations that the programming was paid.  
The proposed fine, formally called a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, details the 
Commission’s allegations of unlawful conduct and proposes a monetary forfeiture for such 
conduct.  Sinclair will have 30 days to respond to this notice or to pay the proposed fine.  The 
Commission will review any written response and additional evidence it receives before 
determining next steps.  A Forfeiture Order imposing a fine or any settlement would require 
another Commission vote.
Office of Media Relations: (202) 418-0500
ASL Videophone: (844) 432-2275
TTY: (888) 835-5322
Twitter: @FCC
This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action.  Release of the full text of a Commission order 
constitutes official action.  See MCI v. FCC, 515 F.2d 385 (D.C. Cir. 1974).